“Self-Reported Health, and Illness and the Use of Conventional and Unconventional Medicine and Mind/Body Healing by Christian Scientists and Others”
Benson, Herbert and Jeff Dusek. “Self-Reported Health, and Illness and the Use of Conventional and Unconventional Medicine and Mind/Body Healing by Christian Scientists and Others.” Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease 187, no. 9 (1999): 539–48.
The purpose of this research reported by Benson and Dusek was to determine whether Christian Scientists report more or less illness than those not practicing Christian Science. This national telephone survey (reported in 1999) was the first that reached a sample of Christian Scientists through random dialing, not through Christian Science churches or other institutions, and therefore may be more representative of the Christian Science population. The report includes detailed explanations of the methodology, seven full-page tables of comparisons between Christian Scientists and others, and an analysis of the results. The findings were at odds with public perceptions that Christian Scientists do not use conventional medicine or are less healthy than non-Christian Scientists. Although there were noticeable differences—such as Christian Scientists taking fewer prescribed medications and often using more spiritual healing techniques—the survey indicates that similar proportions of Christian Scientists and the general population use conventional and unconventional medicine. But also (despite the lesser practice of healthy lifestyles among Christian Scientists), Christian Scientists reported having fewer medical illnesses or symptoms and greater satisfaction with life than non-Christian Scientists. Analysts of the report conclude that additional studies are needed to determine whether there are important health benefits associated with the use of conventional and unconventional medicine in combination with any type of mind/body or spiritual healing.