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08.10.2019 | Original Paper

Assessing Health Needs in African American Churches: A Mixed-Methods Study

Journal of Religion and Health
Dejun Su, Ashvita Garg, Jessica Wiens, Eric Meyer, Grace Cai
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Among major racial and ethnic groups in the USA, African Americans are the most religious, and faith-based organizations play an important role in health promotion for African Americans. This study aimed to assess health needs in African American churches using a mixed-methods approach. Based on quantitative and qualitative data collected from eight African American churches in Nebraska in 2017, the most prevalent chronic conditions among participating African American church members (n = 388) included hypertension (60.8%), allergies (41.0%), arthritis (36.4%), high cholesterol (35.8%), and diabetes (28.1%). Significant predictors of fair or poor health were identified as male sex, unemployment, delayed utilization of health care in the past 12 months due to cost, lower frequency of church attendance, and feeling down, depressed, or hopeless in the past 2 weeks. Pastors from participating churches identified cost as one of the primary barriers to providing church-based health services. There were substantial unmet health needs in African American faith communities, especially in the areas of chronic disease prevention and management, and churches would need more support to realize their full potential in faith-based health promotion.

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