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Health Forum Online    The Psychologist's Source for C.E. Credits Online

Biobehavioral Pathways That Mediate the Effects of Spirituality and Religion on Health

by Patrick McNamara, PhD 3 CE Credits

As investigations into health associations of ‘spirituality’ proceed apace, it has become apparent that many people use spirituality to cope with illness. Further, these individuals often wish medical practitioners to, at least, respect these coping strategies, if not to discuss them with patients. Thus, healthcare professionals may wish to familiarize themselves with major themes in the literature on spirituality and health such as the evidence implicating particular biobehavioral pathways in mediating the effects of spirituality on health, assessment tools to assess spiritual coping strategies and guidelines for discussing spirituality with patients who wish to do so. Toward that end, this course will discuss each of these points in turn and present a summary of the evidence suggesting that spirituality can be associated with both beneficial and negative effects on health.


This online course is approved for APA CE credit, NBCC CE clock hours and ASWB Clinical CE clock hours. NYSED CEs are NOT approved for this online course.

Course Sections/Outline:

  • Introduction
  • Psychosocial Models of Religion’s Impact on Health
  • Religion and the Frontal Lobes
  • Basic Mechanics of Frontal Lobe Function
  • Frontal Lobes and Religious Cognition
  • Clinical Guidelines for Assessment and Care
  • Summary
  • References


Learning Objectives:

After completing this course, health professionals will be able to:
  • Articulate two prominent themes that emerge from current biobehavioral studies of religion’s effects on health.
  • Identify one proven biobehavioral pathway that mediates religion’s effects on health including effects that enhance health outcomes and effects that impede health-related outcomes.
  • Utilize at least three available assessment tools to measure religiosity/spirituality in patients.
  • Recognize two potential barriers/facilitators to discussing the health-related effects of spirituality and religious coping strategies with patients in the medical context.