MD, PhD, MAE, FMedSci, FRSB, FRCP, FRCPEd.

Astrology is a subject that regularly crops up in the realm of so-called alternative medicine (SCAM). Thus we have dealt with it on several occasions, e.g.:

Many SCAM proponents evidently believe that astrology works.

The question is, does astrology have any value at all in healthcare?

Several recent papers go some way in answering it.

The first paper evaluated the existing research base on correlates of belief in astrology and fortune-telling. the researchers conducted a scoping review to synthesize the available literature base on belief in astrology and to review the evidence for “fortune-telling addiction” using Arksey and O’Malley’s methodological framework. Databases of PubMed, ProQuest, EBSCO, and SCOPUS were searched for relevant studies published in peer-reviewed journals.

The search findings revealed the association of belief in astrology with cognitive, personality, and psychological factors such as thinking style, self-concept verification, and stress. Case studies on “fortune-telling addiction” have conceptualized it as a possible behavioral addiction and have reported symptoms such as distress, cravings, and salience.

The second study examined the relationship between Western zodiac signs and subjective well-being in a nationally representative American sample from the General Social Survey (N = 12,791). Well-being was measured across eight components:

  • general unhappiness,
  • depressive symptoms,
  • psychological distress,
  • work dissatisfaction,
  • financial dissatisfaction,
  • perceived dullness of one’s life,
  • self-rated health,
  • unhappiness with marriage.

Parametric and nonparametric analyses consistently revealed no robust associations between zodiac signs and any of the well-being variables, regardless of whether demographic factors were controlled for. The effect sizes were negligible, accounting for 0.3% or less of the variance in well-being, demonstrating that zodiac signs lack predictive power for well-being outcomes. An additional analysis revealed that astrological signs were no more predictive of than random numbers. Thus, a randomly generated number between 1 and 12 is statistically as predictive of one’s well-being as one’s zodiac sign.

The authors concluded that these findings challenge popular astrological claims about the influence of zodiac signs on well-being and quality of life.

The third paper reports a retrospective, single-center cohort study of 2545 adult patients with confirmed COVID-19 infection presenting to the emergency room over a 14-month period (September 2020 to November 2021). COVID-19 infectivity was determined based on polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing. Western and Chinese Zodiac signs were designated using date of birth. Both Zodiac signs were evaluated for risk of infection and death.

Mortality rates across the zodiac and astrology signs showed no statistical difference using the 12-sample test for equality of proportions. Coincidentally, the mean age for the deceased was 74.5 years, and it was 53.9 years for those alive, resulting in a difference of 20.6 years. A two-sample t-test confirms that the observed difference of 20.6 years of age between the two groups is statistically significant with a p-value <0.05. The coefficient of the predictor age is statistically significant. The odds ratio estimate of age is 1.06, with the corresponding 95% confidence interval (CI) being (1.048, 1.073). This means that the odds of dying increase by 6% for every additional year.

The authors concluded that there was no statistical significance between Western and Chinese Zodiac signs and mortality or infections. 

So, does astrology have any value in healthcare?

The answer is as simple as it is unsurprising:

No!

4 Responses to The influence of zodiac signs on health, well-being, quality of life, mortality and infections.

  • Astrology is utter bunk.

    But of course I would say that as a typical Libran

  • “I don’t believe in astrology; I’m a Sagittarius and we’re skeptical.”

    ― Arthur C. Clarke

  • Astrology is nonsense, but I do wonder if the season of birth has any effects upon health and longevity. Do January babies fare better or worse than June babies? I don’t know, just asking the question.

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