Initiative on Health, Spirituality, and Religion

The Initiative on Health, Spirituality, and Religion at Harvard University aims to integrate issues of religion and spirituality into both academic research and also medical and public health practice. The Initiative brings together faculty, clinicians, students, researchers, and clergy throughout Harvard University to contribute to and increase the understanding of the intersection between religion, spirituality, and health.

Tyler VanderWeele serves as Co-Director of the Initiative. A list of religion and public health research publications can be found here and selected media reporting on the research can be found here. More information on the initiative and associated events can be found at the website:

Initiative on Health, Spirituality, and Religion at Harvard University

At the Harvard T.H. School of Public Health the Initiative has sponsored a course on religion and public health that is offered at the school every second year as EPI 230 Religion, Well-being, and Public Health.


Selected Publications

VanderWeele, T.J., Balboni, T.A., Koh, H.K. (2022). Religious service attendance and implications for clinical care, community participation and public health. American Journal of Epidemiology, 191:31-35.

Balboni, T.A., VanderWeele, T.J., Doan-Soares, S.D., Long, K.N.G., Ferrell, B., Fitchett, G., Koenig, H.G., Bain, P., Puchalski, C., Steinhauser, K.E., Sulmasy, D.P., and Koh, H.K. (2022). Spirituality in Serious Illness and Health. JAMA, 328:184-197.

Chen, Y., Koh, H.K., Kawachi, I., Botticelli, M., and VanderWeele, T.J. (2020). Religious service attendance and deaths related to drugs, alcohol, and suicide among US health care professionals. JAMA Psychiatry, 77:737-744.

VanderWeele, T.J. (2018). Is forgiveness a public health issue? American Journal of Public Health, 108:189-190.

VanderWeele, T.J., Balboni, T.A., and Koh, H.K. (2017). Health and spirituality. JAMA, 318:519-520.

VanderWeele, T.J., Yu, J., Cozier, Y.C., Wise, L., Argentieri, M.A., Rosenberg, L., Palmer, J.R., and Shields, A.E. (2017). Religious service attendance, prayer, religious coping, and religious-spiritual identity as predictors of all-cause mortality in the Black Womens Health Study. American Journal of Epidemiology, 185:515-522.

VanderWeele, T.J. (2017). Religion and health: a synthesis. In: Balboni, M.J. and Peteet, J.R. (eds.). Spirituality and Religion within the Culture of Medicine: From Evidence to Practice. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, p 357-401.

VanderWeele, T.J. and Koenig, H.G. (2017). A course on religion and public health at Harvard. American Journal of Public Health, 107:47-49.

Li, S., Okereke, O.I., Chang, S.-C., Kawachi, I., and VanderWeele, T.J. (2016). Religious service attendance and depression among women – a prospective cohort study. Annals of Behavioral Medicine, 50:876-884.

Li, S., Stamfer, M., Williams, D.R. and VanderWeele, T.J. (2016). Association of religious service attendance with mortality among women. JAMA Internal Medicine, 176:777-785.

VanderWeele, T.J., Li, S., Tsai, A., and Kawachi, I. (2016). Association between religious service attendance and lower suicide among U.S. women. JAMA Psychiatry, 73:845-851.