Religion, spirituality and belief: key points

  • Religion and belief can have both positive and negative associations with health.
  • Some attitudes and practices may have an unequal impact upon public service access for religious groups. This requires service providers to adapt their procedures and address staff attitudes and knowledge.
  • Gender roles and behavioural differences may be conditioned by religious beliefs.
  • There are associations between religion and ethnicity. For example among White groups in Scotland, Catholicism is associated with Irish or Polish and the Muslim and Hindu religions with Asian ethnicity.
  • Hindus had the highest levels of wellbeing on the Warwick-Edinburgh Mental Well-being Scale, (WEMWBS) and the highest proportion reporting good or very good self-assessed health.
  • On the General Health Questionnaire 12 (GHQ12) a low score indicates better health. The only religious groups with a significantly lower proportion of high GHQ12 scores than the Scottish average were Hindus and Church of Scotland. Roman Catholics were significantly more likely than the average to have a high GHQ12 score.
  • Mortality varied by raised religious group. Roman Catholics and people of no religion tended to have the highest mortality rates. People reporting being raised as Church of Scotland Christians showed moderate rates, while Other Christians and non-Christian religions had lower rates.
  • There is a difference between the health benefits (or risks) associated with particular religions, and the generalised health and social implications of holding any religious or spiritual belief. 

Section Updates:

  • This section was first published in December 2015.
  • The next review / update is due to be carried out by end June 2017.