Decades of research have established robust linkages between religion/spirituality (RS) and health. More recently, researchers have demonstrated that affective, behavioral, and cognitive dimensions of RS differentially relate to unique aspects of health (Salsman et al., 2015; Sherman et al., 2015) and that RS components may render secular interventions more effective. However, the amount and quality of this research is generally low (Park et al., 2015), reducing its acceptance among scientists and healthcare providers and thus limiting dissemination. Until they can rely on a more solid evidence base, healthcare providers are reluctant to include RS in patient-centered care and best practices (e.g., Best et al., 2016). Speculation has attributed the dearth of strong research evidence to a lack of support by federal funding agencies (Park et al., 2017), but this contention has not been empirically evaluated. To directly address this issue, we propose to answer five questions: 1. What is the federal government’s investment in RS and health research?, 2. What is the return on that investment?, 3. Is RS research relatively underfunded? 4. Which areas of RS and health research have proven most impactful?, and 5. Which federal agencies have invested most in RS and health research and warrant deeper inquiry? Our project proposes to systematically review US federally funded applications of RS and health in the Federal RePORTER and analyze the resulting data. We will characterize specific areas of research and types of projects funded, summarize number and impact of resulting published articles, and compare this funding with comparable constructs, including funding rates and trends over time. We will publish 4 peer-reviewed papers and deliver a set of recommendations for federal funding of priority research areas to federal officials (e.g., NIH, DoD, VA, SAMHSA) and other stakeholders to inform future federal decisions on funding for RS and health research.
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