1st Edition

Belief, Behavior, and Health Religion as a Social Determinant of Health

By Sandra D. Lane Copyright 2025
    176 Pages 14 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    176 Pages 14 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This book uniquely examines, across cultures, the health benefits and detriments of religious beliefs, with important implications for individual well-being and human survival.

    Belief, Behavior, and Health takes the reader through journeys of the author’s research in the Middle East, Africa, and the urban United States, where she focused on the unequal health and survival of women globally and vulnerable groups in the United States. Almost every health problem, especially those experienced by the poor and disadvantaged, arose from, or was made worse by, the conditions in the environment in which people lived. Lane’s detailed studies of beliefs about Judaism, Christianity, and Islam led to the author’s deep observations on how religious belief and practice, as well as discrimination due to religious prejudice, can be a major influence on health, both positively and negatively. In this book Lane shows how religious precepts, and cultural influences on religious behavior, function as social determinants of health.

    An accessible and compelling read, this book will appeal to students and scholars of public health, anthropology, sociology and those interested in the influence of religion on health outcomes.

    1. Introduction  2.The Irish Catholics and the English Protestants: Family History and Social Determinants of Health from the European Wars of Religion  3.The Friends of Dorothy House: A Catholic Worker House for Those Dying of HIV/AIDS  4.Childbirth as a Pathway to Spiritual Transformation  5.Female Genital Cutting in Egypt and Islam  6.Vaccine Hesitancy: Hasidic Jews and Outbreaks of Measles and Polio  7.When Religion Causes Harm  8.Conclusion


    Sandra D. Lane is the Laura J. and L. Douglas Meredith Professor of Public Health and Anthropology at Syracuse University and a research professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Upstate Medical University. 

    "Belief, Behavior, and Health: Religion as a Social Determinant of Health by Sandra D. Lane provides an excellent contribution to the body of literature on the social determinants of health. Dr. Lane uses her own research studies to explain how religion functions as a social determinant which significantly impacts the health outcomes of individuals facing many medical conditions. This highly readable book is an excellent resource for students in health and human service fields seeking to provide healthcare services individuals from a variety of backgrounds."
    Robert H. Keefe, Associate Professor, School of Social Work, University at Buffalo, SUNY, USA

    "Belief, Behavior, and Health calls out the dangers of religion and religious divides while also elevating the importance of faith communities for promoting health and well-being through spirituality. In today’s divided society, this book is a must-read for understanding the origins of what people believe and how such beliefs influence life choices."
    Patricia Cuff, Sr. Program Officer, National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine

    "An insightful and compelling exploration, Belief, Behavior, and Health: Religion as a Social Determinant of Health, demonstrates the intricate interplay between religion and health, shedding light on its profound implications for society. Sandra Lane has focused her keen ethnographic lens on a vital topic to produce a meticulously researched and thoughtful analysis to reveal how religious beliefs, practices, and institutions shape health behaviors, access to care, and overall well-being. This is cutting-edge and it enriches our understanding of the complex dynamics at the intersection of faith and health but also offers valuable insights for policymakers, healthcare professionals, and scholars alike. A must-read for anyone seeking a deeper comprehension of the role of religion as a social determinant of health."
    Jok Madut Jok, Professor of Anthropology, Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, Syracuse University, USA

    "Dr. Lane, a renowned medial anthropologist and epidemiologist, brings the reader into the world of public health through the lens of the three Abrahamic faiths. She has traveled to the Middle East, Africa, and the urban United States studying topics that range from female genital cutting to vaccine hesitancy in search of caring for and understanding the vulnerable and disadvantaged. This well-researched book incorporates her lessons learned and provides a link in comprehending how religious beliefs affect medical outcomes and what we, as practitioners, community leaders, and patients, can do to improve morbidity and mortality."
    Mary Jumbelic, M.D., forensic pathologist and author of the memoir, Here, Where Death Delights

    "Through gripping stories and examples, this book demonstrates the powerful impact of religion on public health problems and their solution. A must-read for health professionals, social scientists, and anyone interested in faith and health around the globe."
    Marcia C. Inhorn, Professor of Anthropology and International Affairs, Yale University, USA

    "Belief, behavior, and health: Religion as a Social Determinant of Health by Sandra D Lane is a highly original and provocative examination of multiple religions as they variously impact health. Lane draws on family history, personal experience, and many years of research in a wide variety of cultural contexts to provide important insights on factors influencing health and health related behaviors. This book is a significant resource for current and emerging health care providers and behavioral scientists."

    Susan C. Scrimshaw, Former President, Russell Sage College, USA and Former Dean, UIC School of Public Health, University of Illinois Chicago, USA