• Norway edition
 
Church-goers have lower blood pressure: study
Photo: Håkon Mosvold Larsen/Scanpix

Church-goers have lower blood pressure: study

Published: 28 Dec 2011 10:31 GMT+01:00
Updated: 28 Dec 2011 11:43 GMT+01:00

Attending church services benefits the health of both men and women, according to a Nord-Trøndelag health study (HUNT) carried out by researchers at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology.

"We found that the more often HUNT participants went to church, the lower their blood pressure, even when we controlled for a number of other possible explanatory factors," said Torgeir Sørensen, a PhD candidate from the School of Theology and Religious Psychology Centre at Sykehuset Innlandet (Inland Hospital), in a statement.

The study is the first of its kind in Scandinavia, and researchers were surprised to find that their results tallied with similar studies in the United States. 


"About 40 percent of the US population goes to church on a weekly basis, while the corresponding figure in Nord-Trøndelag County is 4 percent. For that reason, we did not expect to find any correlation between going to church and blood pressure in Nord-Trøndelag. Our findings, however, are almost identical to those previously reported from the United States. We were really surprised," Sørensen said.

Looking at a cross section of the population, the researchers selected church attendance as a variable to represent religious activity, while blood pressure was taken as a variable to indicate overall health. And the study found there to be a clear link between the two.

But Professor Jostein Holmen from NTNU's Faculty of Medicine, and one of the authors of the study, injected a note of caution when interpreting the findings.

“Since this is a cross-sectional study, it is not possible to say whether it was a health condition that affected the participants' religious activity, or whether it was the religious activity that affected the state of participants' health," he said

To establish whether such a causal relationship exists, researchers would have to look at the same people who participated in the study but at different times.

Torgeir Sørensen also noted that the study, published in the International Journal of Psychiatry in Medicine, had focused only on Christian worshipers.

"The study of the relationship between religion and health has rarely focused on other religions, such as Judaism and Islam. It is therefore difficult to say anything about whether or not this same association can be found in these communities," he said.

The inhabitants of Nord-Trøndelag County have taken part in three surveys since the health study's inception in 1984. In all, the vast HUNT databases contain information on 120,000 individuals, with early studies indicating there are health benefits to be derived from humour and participation in cultural activities.

"It would appear that the data we have been recording in the HUNT studies about religious beliefs is actually relevant to your health, and this is interesting in itself," Holmen said. 



"The fact that church-goers have lower blood pressure encourages us to continue to study this issue. We're just in the start-up phase of an exciting research area in Norway," he said.

The Local (news@thelocal.no)

Don't miss...X
Left Right

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Norway continues to downgrade terror alert
Bjørvika, central Oslo: The security level of several ports was increased as the threat level went up. Photo: Heiko Junge / NTB scanpix

Norway continues to downgrade terror alert

Norway further returns to normal after the terror alert, as Norwegian ports relax their security levels at less exposed coastal facilities. READ  

Mother and son die in motorcycle crash tragedy
Mother and son hit a mobile caravan on E6 in Norway. Photo: Motorcycle helmet on a wet street

Mother and son die in motorcycle crash tragedy

A mother and her 16-year-old son died when the motorcycle they were riding hit a camper van in Gudbrandsdalen on Tuesday. READ  

Norwegian boy stung by scorpion on ferry
Eight-year-old survives potentially deadly insect bite. Photo: Scorpion crawling Shutterstock

Norwegian boy stung by scorpion on ferry

The scorpion caused havoc on a ferry trip between Denmark and Norway after the creature bit an eight-year-old boy and forced the vessel to head for emergency aid on Tuesday. READ  

Beach cleaners find polar bear stuck in net
Polar bear gets caught up in an Arctic cleaning project in Norway. Photo: Polar bear paw Shutterstock

Beach cleaners find polar bear stuck in net

A polar bear trapped in a net was one of the stranger discoveries found by volunteers in Northern Norway, working on a beach cleaning project this year. READ  

Camel goes walkabout on Norway roundabout
Police rescued an escaped circus camel in Trøndelag. Photo: Tor Aage Hansen / NTB scanpix

Camel goes walkabout on Norway roundabout

A circus camel had to be rescued after it escaped its owners and went for a walk around a Norwegian town on Tuesday. READ  

Government vows to cover costs of terror alert
Minister of Finance Siv Jensen will take care of the terror alert costs. Photo: Anette Karlsen / NTB scanpix

Government vows to cover costs of terror alert

The government will cover the additional costs incurred by the police and other organizations linked to the terror threat, said Norway's minister of finance. READ  

Feature
Interview: Jan Berglund, Chess Olympiad ambassador
Jan Sigmund Berglund, head event coordinator of the Chess Olympiad 2014, held in Norway.

Interview: Jan Berglund, Chess Olympiad ambassador

In August the Chess Olympiad comes to Tromsø. 181 countries take part, crowning it the third biggest sporting event in the world. The Local makes its move to meet Jan Sigmund Berglund, head event coordinator of the event and a key ambassador of the sport in the Arctic Circle. READ  

Muslim leaders must curb extremism: Labour
Jonas Gahr Støre. Photo: Vegard Grøtt / NTB scanpix

Muslim leaders must curb extremism: Labour

Muslim leaders must take more responsibility for stopping hardline extremism, said Norway's Labour Party chairman on Tuesday, in the wake of the terror alerts in Norway. READ  

Swedish terrorism expert slams Norway terror alert
Information or propaganda? Statsbygg put up a poster about the terror incidents on the 22nd of July 2011 and plans for the work on the damaged government buildings. Photo: Berit Roald / Scanpix

Swedish terrorism expert slams Norway terror alert

A Swedish terrorism researcher has blasted Norway's handling of its recent terror threat, saying the day the threat began was a "total intelligence failure". READ  

Norway set to reduce terror alert
Jon Ståle Stamnes, Assistant National Police Commissioner at The Norwegian Police Directorate. Photo: Audun Braastad / NTB scanpix

Norway set to reduce terror alert

Norway's terror alert level will be reduced from Tuesday, but security will still be somewhat tighter than normal, police chiefs said on Monday. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Society
Brit's charity tractor trek heads for Norway
Travel
Plans unveiled for bike trail along former Iron Curtain
National
Norway lifts Segway ban
Culture
GALLERY: Ten great songs about Norway
Society
Høie promises to reform sex change law
Education
Norway fjord invaded by monster jellyfish
Culture
VIDEO: Norwegian anti-Facebook film goes viral
Culture
Norway pop duo hits number 4 on US charts
Sport
Norway fan wins big on Suarez bite bet
National
Solberg 'most chatty' leader on Twitter
Culture
British Airways takes 'Slow TV' to the skies
International
Top Norway lawyers back Snowden Nobel
Society
Buy your own Viking warship for just €160,000
Politics
Norway PM beats Candy Crush level 300
Culture
Norway sticks with fårikål as national dish
International
Cold bathing craze leads to teen death
Society
Sweden threatens to 'annex' the ostehøvel
National
Baby squirrels survive cat attack
Society
Norway's 'cushy' prisons spurring foreign cons
National
Half Norwegians overweight: Gates study
International
VIDEO: Jagland doing press-ups in Donetsk
Business & Money
Striking Norway barbers: 'Let your hair grow'
Culture
Rihanna 'hard to please', Norway's Stargate reveal
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

352
jobs available