Harold G. Koenig is a psychiatrist on the faculty of Duke University. His ideas have been covered in Newsweek and other news media with regard to religion, spirituality and health, a focus of some of his research and clinical practice. Templeton Foundation has provided great financial support to his activities.[1]

Education and academic careerEdit

Koenig graduated with a B.S. in history from Stanford University (1974), later receiving his MD (1982) from University of California, San Francisco.[2] He became Clinical Assistant Professor in Psychiatry (1992) and has been Professor of Psychiatry (2004-) at Duke University Medical Center.

He is currently director of Duke's Center for the Study of Religion/Spirituality and Health.


Koenig has published over 280 scientific articles in peer-reviewed journals, scholarly professional journal articles and 60 chapters in professional books.[2] In a cooperation with Raphael M. Bonelli from Sigmund Freud University Vienna he undertook the first systematic evidence based analysis on the connection between mental disorders and religion.[3] The researchers conclude that there is good evidence that religious involvement is correlated with better mental health in the areas of depression, substance abuse, and suicide; some evidence in Stress-related disorders and dementia; insufficient evidence in bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, and no data in many other mental disorders.

Media coverageEdit

Koenig's ideas have been covered in a wide variety of news media, ranging from BBC radio to the Vatican Radio.[2] Examples include:

  • In 2009, Newsweek featured comments from Koenig, stating that he was "leading the charge for a better understanding of patients' religious and spiritual beliefs in the medical setting. 'It just makes too much sense,' he says, when patient after patient tells him, 'Doctor, religion is the most important thing; it keeps me going.' Koenig advocates that doctors take spiritual histories of any patient they are likely to have an ongoing relationship with, asking questions like: 'Is religion a source of comfort or stress? Do you have any religious beliefs that would influence decision-making? Do you have any spiritual needs that someone should address?'"[4]



Koenig has authored or edited more than 35 books[2] that include:

  • Is religion good for your health? The effects of religion on physical and mental health. Harold G. Koenig (1997, New York: Haworth Pastoral Press)
  • Handbook of religion and mental health. Harold G. Koenig (1998, New York: Academic Press)
  • Handbook of religion and health (see article). Harold G. Koenig, Michael E. McCullough, & David B. Larson. (2001, New York: Oxford University Press).
  • Wrote chapter 8 in the book Spirituality and Religion Within the Culture of Medicine: From Evidence to Practice Edited by Michael J. Balboni and John R. Peteet (2017, Oxford University Press).

Research articlesEdit

The main papers:

  • Koenig, HG; Cohen, HJ; Blazer, DG; Pieper, C; Meador, KG; Shelp, F; et al. (1992). "Religious coping and depression among elderly, hospitalized medically ill men". Am J Psychiatry. 149 (12): 1693–700. doi:10.1176/ajp.149.12.1693. PMID 1443246.
  • Koenig, HG; George, LK; Peterson, BL (1998). "Religiosity and remission of depression in medically ill older patients". Am J Psychiatry. 155 (4): 536–42. doi:10.1176/ajp.155.4.536. PMID 9546001.
  • Koenig, HG; Hays, JC; George, LK; Blazer, DG; Larson, DB; Landerman, LR (1997). "Modeling the cross-sectional relationships between religion, physical health, social support, and depressive symptoms". Am J Geriatr Psychiatry. 5 (2): 131–44. doi:10.1097/00019442-199700520-00006.
  • Bonelli, RM; Mental Disorders, Koenig H.; Religion; Spirituality (2013). "to 2010: A Systematic Evidence-Based Review". Journal of Religion and Health. 52 (2): 657–73. doi:10.1007/s10943-013-9691-4. PMID 23420279.


  1. ^ Sloan, Richard P. (2006). Blind faith : the unholy alliance of religion and medicine. Internet Archive. New York : St. Martin's Press. pp. 60–63.
  2. ^ a b c d Curriculum Vitae: Harold G. Koenig, accessed 1 February 2010.
  3. ^ Bonelli, RM; Koenig, H (2013). "Mental Disorders, Religion and Spirituality 1990 to 2010: A Systematic Evidence-Based Review". Journal of Religion and Health. 52 (2): 657–73. doi:10.1007/s10943-013-9691-4. PMID 23420279.
  4. ^ Claudia Kalb (2003, Nov. 10). "Can Religion Improve Health? While The Debate Rages In Journals And Med Schools, More Americans Ask For Doctors' Prayers ." Newsweek.

External linksEdit