Exploring Community Health Center and Faith-Based Partnerships

Community Residents' Perspectives

Published in: Journal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved, v. 24, no. 1, Feb. 2013, p. 262-274

Posted on RAND.org on February 01, 2013

by Kavita Patel, Kenneth A. Frausto, Anne D. Staunton, Janine Souffront, Kathryn Pitkin Derose

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Community health centers (CHCs) play a critical role in the primary care safety net. Partnerships between CHCs and faith-based organizations are promoted as a way to increase outreach to underserved populations and support health-promoting behaviors and effective disease management. Through six focus groups (totaling 58 participants), we explored low-income residents' perspectives (African American, Latino, and White) of their communities, the meaning of health, the role of spirituality, and their experiences with and preferences for congregation-based health programming to inform future outreach efforts of a CHC. We found that community perspectives varied based on race/ethnicity and neighborhood, but health concerns tended to cluster by race/ethnicity alone. We also found that spirituality was deemed important for health by all racial-ethnic groups, but attendance at religious services, religious affiliation, and preferences for congregation-based health programming varied across and within groups. Community health center-faith based partnerships could facilitate health care access in underserved communities but may have limited reach among certain subgroups and individuals.

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