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Templeton.org is in English. Only a few pages are translated into other languages.

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Overview

Exploring the impact of religion and spirituality on health outcomes and engaging religious and spiritual resources in health care contexts.

The intersection of health and religion or spirituality has been a focus of funding almost since the Foundation was created. Since the mid-2000s, our funding has covered at least six related but distinct themes: (1) research into the relationships between religion and health; (2) capacity-building through establishing academic centers; (3) training health professionals in religious and spiritual competencies; (4) studying medicine as a spiritual practice or calling; (5) testing religiously integrated health interventions; and (6) research into the impact of chaplains on health care. For the 2019 – 2023 funding cycle, we are narrowing our focus to prioritize two areas: (1) basic research into the causal relationships between religion/spirituality and health; and (2) applied research and engagement on the use of religious and spiritual resources in the practice of health care.

  1. Investigating the causal relationships between religion/spirituality and health. Are there robust associations between religious or spiritual beliefs, experiences, practices, and identities, on the one hand, and physical or mental health, on the other? Are such associations causal in nature, and, if so, what are the underlying causal mechanisms? Some of JTF’s first grants helped expand the number of studies reporting some association between religion and health. But the vast majority of published studies in this area rely on weak—often correlational—research designs and provide little resolution as to what it is about religion or spirituality that might have an influence on health. Many health cohort studies (e.g., see the R|S Atlas, for an analysis of many U.S. cohorts) or national household panel studies contain data on religion for which analyses have yet to be published; whether this is due to lack of researcher interest or results deemed unpublishable (the “file drawer effect”) is unclear. We are therefore particularly interested in proposals with pre-registered analyses of extant data, proposals to add improved measures of religion and spirituality into ongoing longitudinal research programs, and proposals that creatively leverage other sources of data or research designs to provide insights into such causal relationships as may exist.
  2. Engaging religious and spiritual resources in the practice of health care. Religion and spirituality have multiple potential interactions with the practice of health care. We are currently prioritizing proposals concerned with any of the following specific interactions:
    1. Increasing the religious and spiritual competencies of health care practitioners. We welcome proposals for applied research concerning the scope of such competencies, how such competencies might differ among health care disciplines, how they are best assessed, what training models are most effective, ultimately what difference possessing such competencies makes on patient health outcomes.
    2. Testing the impact of religiously integrated therapies. Does integrating religious or spiritual content into conventional therapies increase their effectiveness? Does including religious or spiritual interventions within treatment improve patient outcomes? If so, why, and for whom? Might engaging with religious or spiritual resources during treatment improve therapeutic alliance or more reliably protect against relapse? Would wider availability of religiously integrated therapies improve access to health care for under-served populations?
    3. Increasing the scientific literacy of health care chaplains. What difference do chaplains make to health care outcomes? How can chaplains be enabled to become effective evidence-based advocates for the role of spiritual care? We particularly welcome proposals that seek to bring about systemic and institutional change.

Featured Grants

Human Sciences
Project Leader(s): Alexandra Shields
Grantee(s): The General Hospital Corporation d/b/a Massachusetts General Hospital
Human Sciences
Project Leader(s): Jean Golding, Kate Northstone
Grantee(s): University of Bristol
Human Sciences
Project Leader(s): Joseph Currier, Jesse Fox, Holly Oxhandler, Kenneth Pargament, Michelle Pearce, Edward Polson, Cassandra Vieten
Grantee(s): University of South Alabama
Human Sciences
Project Leader(s): Christina Puchalski, George Fitchett, Betty Ferrell
Grantee(s): George Washington University
Human Sciences
Project Leader(s): Tin Tin Su, Pascale Allotey
Grantee(s): Monash University Malaysia