In Spirituality and Health Research: Methods, Measurement, Statistics, and Resources, Dr. Harold G. Koenig leads a comprehensive overview of this complex subject. Dr. Koenig is one of the world’s leading authorities on the relationship between spirituality and health, and a leading researcher on the topic. As such, he is distinctively qualified to author such a book.
This unique source of information on how to conduct research on religion, spirituality, and health includes practical information that goes well beyond what is typically taught in most undergraduate, graduate, or even post-doctoral level courses. This volume reviews what research has been done, discusses the strengths and limitations of that research, provides a research agenda for the future that describes the most important studies that need to be done to advance the field, and describes how to actually conduct that research (design, statistical analysis, and publication of results). It also covers practical matters such as how to write fundable grants to support the research, where to find sources of funding support for research in this area, and what can be done even if the researcher has little or no funding support.
The information gathered together here, which has been reviewed for accuracy and comprehensiveness by research design and statistical experts, has been acquired during a span of over twenty-five years that Dr. Koenig spent conducting research, reviewing others’ research, reviewing research grants, and interacting with mainstream biomedical researchers both within and outside the field of spirituality and health. The material is presented in an easy to read and readily accessible form that will benefit researchers at almost any level of training and experience.
Table of Contents
Preface / ix
Acknowledgments / xi
Introduction / 3
Part 1: Overview
1. Overview of the Research / 13
2. Strengths, Weaknesses, and Challenges / 29
3. A Research Agenda for the Field / 47
Part 2: Methods and Design
4. Identifying a Research Question / 75
5. Choosing a Research Design / 85
6. Selecting a Sample / 97
7. Qualitative Research / 115
8. Observational Research / 129
9. Clinical Trials / 149
10. Clinical Trials with Religious Interventions / 171
Part 3: Measurement
11. Definitions / 193
12. Measurement I 207
13. Measurement II / 219
Part 4: Statistical Analyses and Modeling
14. Statistics I: General Considerations / 237
15. Statistics II: Statistical Tests and Approaches / 253
16. Confounders, Explanatory Variables, and Moderators / 289
17. Models and Mechanisms / 309
18. Statistical Modeling / 327
Part 5: Publishing and Funding Resources
19. Publishing Results / 347
20. Funding for Research / 367
21. Writing a Grant / 385
Final Thoughts / 405
Notes / 409
Glossary / 433
Index / 441
Research methods are best learned within the context of a substantive field that is near to your heart. This impressive volume is indispensible for those who want to learn more about research methods on religion, spirituality, and health. This comprehensive survey of the field is unprecedented: it contains everything from finding funding to selecting a journal for publication. What a stellar accomplishment!
Religious principles rest on faith—belief even in the absence of evidence, whereas scientific principles rest on skepticism—disbelief even in the presence of evidence. Beliefs can have significant effects on health whether or not the beliefs are true (e.g., placebo effects). Science, therefore, is especially well-suited for testing the effects of people holding religious beliefs or engaging in religious behaviors on health outcomes. In Spirituality and Health Research, Koenig provides a valuable guide for designing and executing such scientific investigations. The result is a worthwhile read for students and faculty alike.
Simply stated, Dr. Koenig’s book is as close to a one-stop research reference as you will find on the market today. Students and established scholars of religion and health will benefit from excellent chapters concerning the development of important research questions, the selection of appropriate research designs, measurements, and analytic strategies, and publishing, research funding, and grant writing. All disciplines should have such a comprehensive and practical and accessible reference.
Journal of Christian Nursing (October/December 2013 Issue)
“Harold Koenig’s Spirituality & Health Research (Templeton, 2011) reports on hundreds of studies that show religious (in the United States, predominantly Christian) involvement and belief lead to greater marital stability and less alcohol and drug abuse, risky sexual activity, and deliquency/crime. One odd result: Church folks on average tend to be fatter. The bulk of Koenig’s book is a guide to future researchers: how to identify a question, select a sample, do clinical trials and statistical modeling, and get someone to pay for it all.”