Health Effects of Religion, Spirituality, and Supernatural Beliefs in Mainland China: A Systematic Review

Stephen W. Pan*, Yuxin Liang, Shiqiang Wu, Wanqi Wang, Xinwen Hu, Jing Wang, Wenting Huang

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Effects of religion, spirituality and supernatural beliefs (RSS) upon health in mainland China remain poorly understood, despite strong RSS beliefs influencing Chinese society. We conducted a Chinese–English bilingual systematic review to summarize the state of RSS-health research in mainland China. Study quality was assessed using the Critical Appraisal Skills Program tool. We screened 1858 studies, 162 of which were included in the review. From 2000–2004 to 2015–2019, the number of RSS-health studies in China increased from five to 73. However, only 7% of studies were rated as higher quality. Cross-sectional and case–control studies represented the vast majority of study designs (94%) and religious affiliation was the only RSS measure for 58% of studies. Higher, moderate, and lower quality studies indicated that RSS has both beneficial and adverse health implications. RSS-health research in China has accelerated rapidly in the last 20 years, but fundamental gaps in knowledge remain. Longitudinal study designs and nuanced RSS measures are needed to advance understanding of RSS health effects in China.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2726-2742
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Religion and Health
Volume61
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2022

Keywords

  • Buddhist
  • Christian
  • Daoist
  • Faith
  • Muslim

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