Originally published in Christian Telegraph
A Christian GP has published an article in a medical journal this month in which he reports on research which shows that the effects of faith on health are “extraordinary”.
Dr Richard Scott, who is also a former Christian Legal Centre client, had his article published in this month’s British Journal of General Practice. The article was also mentioned in The Telegraph this week, reports.
Prompted by his own battle with cancer, the Margate GP consulted the Handbook of Religion and Health, a book published by two American professors in 2012. The book surveys the wealth of research on religion and health that has been conducted since 1800. The majority of these are US-based studies and concern the Judaeo-Christian tradition.
Dr Scott reports that 81 per cent of the studies showed that faith benefits health and only 4 per cent showed harm.
More specifically, faith leads to reduced anxiety, less depression and 70 per cent faster recovery from depression. 85 per cent of the studies showed reduced alcohol and drug misuse and 70 per cent showed less suicidal ideation.
The benefits of Christianity are also apparent in physical conditions. Regular church attendance is associated with less coronary heart disease, two thirds fewer heart attacks and 40 per cent fewer deaths in men aged under 60. Disability following stroke is reduced and decline in dementia is slowed.
Dr Scott also notes with interest, given his own battle with cancer, that Christianity is associated with reduced cancer incidence and better survival if cancer develops. He concludes: “Faith in God is relevant to all diseases yet studied”.
His research inspired him to summarise his findings in his first book God—I’ve got cancer, published last year. He says his aim was to “encourage all those, like myself, unfortunate enough to develop serious illness to practise evidence-based medicine by getting the best possible treatment and pray.”
Dr Scott was prompted to write his second book Christians in the Firing Lineafter he faced disciplinary action for talking about the Christian faith with a patient, having been given permission by the patient to do so. The book examines the cases of thirteen people who have been warned, blacklisted, suspended or dismissed for acting in line with their Christian faith and is available from Wilberforce Publications. You can read more about Dr Scott’s own case here.
The Christian Legal Centre represented Richard Scott.