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J Am Board Fam Med. 2006 Mar-Apr;19(2):103-9.

Religious attendance: more cost-effective than lipitor?

Author information

1
Department of General Surgery, University of Pittsburgh Medical Centers, Pittsburgh, PA 15261, USA. revdocdan@aya.yale.edu

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

A recent meta-analysis demonstrates a robust but small association between weekly religious attendance and longer life. However, the practical significance of this finding remains controversial.

METHODS:

Age specific, actuarial death rates were modified according to published odds ratios to model the additional years of life attributable to: (1) weekly religious attendance; (2) regular physical exercise; and (3) statin-type lipid-lowering agents. Secondary analyses estimated the approximate cost for each additional year of life gained.

RESULTS:

Weekly attendance at religious services accounts for an additional 2 to 3 life-years compared with 3 to 5 life-years for physical exercise and 2.5 to 3.5 life-years for statin-type agents. The approximate cost per life-year gained was between 2,000 dollars and 6,000 dollars for regular exercise, 3,000 dollars and 10,000 dollars for regular religious attendance, and between 4,000 dollars and 14,000 dollars for statin-type agents.

CONCLUSION:

The real-world, practical significance of regular religious attendance is comparable to commonly recommended therapies, and rough estimates even suggest that religious attendance may be more cost-effective than statins. Religious attendance is not a mode of medical therapy, but these findings warrant more and better quality research designed to examine the associations between religion and health, and the potential relevance such associations might have for medical practice.

PMID:
16513898
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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