Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Yikes

The Washington Post today includes a press release from Temple University.

Apparently, Joanna Maselko, an associate professor of public health at Temple, found (with her team) that women who stay "religiously active" have less anxiety/depression.

Who the hell studies this stuff? Okay, I guess this is my answer. But why?

I don't know much about the logistics of studies, but 718 adults doesn't seem conclusive to me. Men were less likely than women to have this disorder, no matter what their religious habits, and "about 7 percent of the women who were always religiously active could be categorized as having generalized anxiety disorder, compared with 21 percent of those who had ended their religious activities."

Okay, so that looks bad. But there are too many variables here. Maselko explains that the greater prevalence in women is probably because women make more social ties through religious institutions. But the release goes on to say, "Women are two times more likely to suffer from anxiety disorder than men."

So is this a story about mental illness? Gender differences? Society? Or religion? I think religion (or "religious activity") is least likely to account for the findings in this study.

1 comment:

Andy Swan said...

718 sounds like a very large sample size to me. Most polls look for 300-500 and contain a margin of error of 3-5%.

The entire study seems like a big "no duh" to me...those that focus on community involvement, spirituality and self-improvement are much less likely to be whacky than those that don't...and the fact that this applies to women at a much higher rate than men is not surprising at all. Just my .02