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Prayer for health and primary care: results from the 2002 National Health Interview Survey.

Wilkinson JE, Saper RB, Rosen AK, Welles SL, Culpepper L. Prayer for health and primary care: results from the 2002 National Health Interview Survey. Family medicine. 2008 Oct 1; 40(9):638-44.

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BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: Prayer for health (PFH) is common; in 2002, 35% of US adults prayed for their health. We examined the relationship of PFH and primary care visits, with a special focus on African American women, using data from the 2002 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS). METHODS: We used chi-square analyses to compare the demographic (age group, gender, race, region, marital status, educational level, ethnicity) and health-related covariates (alcohol use, smoking status, and selected medical conditions) between individuals who did and did not pray for their health in the past year. Univariate associations between PFH and visit to primary care provider (PCP), with Mantel-Haenszel adjustment for confounding, were determined. Multivariate regression was used to determine independent factors associated with PFH and PCP visit, with SUDAAN to adjust for the clustered survey design. RESULTS: Subjects who prayed were more likely to be female, older than 58, Black, Southern, separated, divorced or widowed, and nondrinkers. Subjects who prayed were also more likely to have seen a PCP within the past year. Black women who prayed were also more likely to see a PCP. CONCLUSIONS: These findings suggest that people who pray for their health do so in addition to, not instead of, seeking primary care. This finding is maintained but with a smaller effect size, in Black women.

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