Flannelly, Kevin J., Harold G. Koenig, Christopher G. Ellison, Kathleen Galek, and Neal Krause. 2006. "Belief in life after death and mental health-- Findings from a national survey." Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 194(7): 524-529.
The present study examined the association between belief in life after death and six measures of psychiatric symptomology in a national sample of 1403 adult Americans. A statistically significant inverse relationship was found between belief in life after death and symptom severity on all six symptom clusters that were examined (i.e., anxiety, depression, obsession-compulsion, paranoia, phobia, and somatization) after controlling for demographic and other variables (e.g., stress and social support) that are known to influence mental health. No significant association was found between the frequency of attending religious services and any of the mental health measures. The results are discussed in terms of the potentially salubrious effects of religious belief systems on mental health. These findings suggest that it may be more valuable to focus on religious beliefs than on religious practices and behaviors in research on religion and mental health.