Understanding the connection between spiritual well-being and physical health: an examination of ambulatory blood pressure, inflammation, blood lipids and fasting glucose


Spiritual, Religiosity, Heart disease, Blood pressure, Fasting glucose, Inflammation, Cholesterol


Growing research has demonstrated a link between spiritual well-being and better health; however, little is known about possible physiological mechanisms. In a sample of highly religious healthy male and female adults (n = 100) ages 19–59 (m = 28.28) we examined the influence of spiritual well-being, as measured by the Functional Assessment of Chronic Illness Therapy-Spiritual Well-Being (FACIT-Sp-Ex), on physiological risk factors for heart disease. Specifically we examined 24-h ambulatory blood pressure (BP), inflammation (hs-C-reactive protein), fasting glucose, and blood lipids. Regression analyses reveal that higher levels of spiritual-wellness (total FACIT-Sp-Ex score) was significantly related to lower systolic ambulatory BP (β = −.345; P < .001), diastolic ambulatory BP (β = −.24; P = .02), hs-C-reactive protein (β = −.23; P = .04), fasting glucose (β = −.28; P = .006), and marginally lower triglycerides (β = −.21; P = .09) and VLDL (β = −.21; P = .10) controlling for age, gender, and church attendance. Results remained generally consistent across the Meaning, Peace, Faithand Additional Spiritual Concerns subscales of the FACIT-Sp-Ex. Spiritual well-being may be cardio protective.

Original Publication Citation

Holt-Lunstad, J, Steffen, P.R., Sandberg, J.G., Jenson, B. (2011). Understanding the Connection between spiritual well-being and physical health: An examination of ambulatory blood pressure, inflammation, blood lipids, and fasting glucose. Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 34, 477-488.

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date



Journal of behavioral Medicine




Family, Home, and Social Sciences


Family Life

University Standing at Time of Publication

Full Professor