Exploring heart and soul: effects of religiosity/spirituality and gender on blood pressure and cortisol stress responses.
Integr Cancer Ther. 2008 Dec;7(4):311-6. PMID: 16176954
The current study investigated gender effects on the influence of self-reported religiosity and spirituality on cardiovascular and cortisol responses to a laboratory stressor among young adults. Participants with higher composite religiosity/spirituality scores, religiosity, levels of forgiveness and frequency of prayer showed lower cortisol responses. Greater composite religiosity/spirituality, religiosity, frequency of prayer and attendance at services were associated with lower blood pressure in males and elevated blood pressure in females. Findings suggest that spiritual and/or religious individuals may experience a protective effect against the neuroendocrine consequences of stress, though cardiovascular benefits may vary by gender. This work represents an important step in the convergence of multiple realms of research by linking physiological measures with indicators of individual belief systems.