Forgiveness and physical health

Loren L. Toussaint, Everett L. Worthington, David R. Williams, Jon R. Webb

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

4 Scopus citations


We summarize 55 studies examining forgiveness and physical health published between 2000 and 2018. Studies must have used measures both of forgiveness and physical health. Studies were excluded if they contained: (a) experimental manipulations or interventions that combined forgiveness with other constructs (e.g., gratitude, mindfulness); and (b) health-related outcomes focused exclusively on mental health, happiness, suicide, global non-health-related quality of life (see Chapter 18), physiological parameters or biomarkers (see Chapter 16), or combined mental and physical health composites. Participants were: college students, community members, and individuals with illnesses and diseases. Community samples included: (a) sedentary young adults, (b) middle-aged male prisoners, (c) Iraqi refugees, and (d) members of five different religions. Individuals with the following illnesses and diseases were included: (a) fibromyalgia, (b) spinal cord injury, (c) chronic heart failure, (d) traumatic brain injury, (e) stroke, (f) chronic pain, (g) HIV, (h) arthritis, (i) chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, (j) diabetes, and (k) posttraumatic stress disorder. Of the 55 studies, 40 (73%) showed a salutary connection between forgiveness and physical health, and this connection was robust across measurement, sample, and design. Emerging results are consistent and promising for understanding how forgiveness might contribute to good physical health.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHandbook of Forgiveness
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages10
ISBN (Electronic)9781351123334
ISBN (Print)9780815357988
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019


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