African-Americans have been found to use prayer more often to cope with health issues over the years, according to a study published in the APA journal Psychology of Religion and Spirituality.
While prayer about health issues increased across all groups, women, African-Americans and well-educated individuals who’ve had a change in their health, for better or worse, within the last 12 months, were the most likely to pray. In contrast, the research indicated that people who were in the highest income bracket were 15 percent less likely to pray than those with the lowest incomes.
The study showed that African-Americans reported praying for their health 61 percent of the time during 2002 and 67 percent in 2007. Whites prayed in health situations 40 percent and 45 percent in 2002 and 2007.
“The United States did have an increase in worship attendance across multiple religious faiths immediately after the 9/11 attack, but that has not stayed elevated. However, people continued to use informal and private spiritual practices such as prayer,” said lead author Amy Wachholtz, Ph.D. “There is also a greater public awareness of Buddhist-based mindfulness practices that can include prayerful meditation, which individuals may also be using to address a variety of health concerns.”
Researchers used data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Health Interview Surveys. The data showed that Americans as a whole prayed for health 36 percent more between 1999 and 2007 and from 43 percent in 2002 to 49 percent in 2007.
“We’re seeing a wide variety of prayer use among people with good income and access to medical care,” Wachholtz said. “People are not exchanging health insurance for prayer.”
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