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Year : 2022  |  Volume : 10  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 20-33

Religion-based interventions for mental health disorders: A systematic review

1 Department of Psychiatric Social Work, National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences, Bengaluru, Karnataka, India
2 Department of Psychiatry, National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences, Bengaluru, Karnataka, India
3 International Centre for Spiritual Studies, Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham, Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, India

Correspondence Address:
Ms. Chhaya Shantaram Kurhade
Scholar of Psychiatric Social Work, NIMHANS, Bengaluru
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/ijoyppp.ijoyppp_14_21

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Religion-based psychotherapy is therapy formulated based on the norms and values of one particular philosophy or ideology of a religion. Many studies have shown that religion and spirituality play an essential role in helping people with mental health issues. This is the first systematic review of five religion-based interventions (including five major religions: Islam, Hinduism, Christianity, Buddhism, and Sikhism) for people with mental health disorders. The five electronic databases included PubMed (MEDLINE), ProQuest, EBSCO-host Google Scholar, and Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews to retrieve eligible studies (randomized clinical trials (RCTs) and case studies). Published studies between 1st January 2000 to 30th June 2020 examined the efficacy of mental health outcomes based on religion-based psychotherapy. Two researchers independently screened studies, extracted data, and assessed the risks of bias. The total number of articles identified through [MeSH] terms was 87160. After sorting out the duplicates, 13073 articles remained. 12727 articles were excluded for not meeting the inclusion criteria; 12678 were out of topic, and 49 included spiritual interventions. A total of 346 full-text articles were assessed, out of which 318 had methodological issues, and the authors were contacted by email; despite that, 5 failed to respond. 23 articles were found eligible, out of which 17 were case studies and 6 were intervention studies. Surprisingly, we were unable to find any intervention studies based on Hinduism. Results from included studies show that religion-based therapies have led to effective ways in managing anxiety, depression, psychological stress, and alcohol dependence. The findings of this review suggest a lack of experimental studies based on Hinduism, which is an area that needs exploration. Nevertheless, results from included studies show that religion-based psychological interventions are feasible and have the potential to improve anxiety, depression, psychological stress, and alcohol dependence. However, the included religion-based intervention studies have shown poor replicability and a high risk of bias due to a lack of standardization and methodological rigor. Thus, religion-based interventions need to follow standardized methods to enhance the quality of evidence.

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