Cover: Lessons Learned About Developing Faith and Public Health Partnerships to Address Health Disparities

Lessons Learned About Developing Faith and Public Health Partnerships to Address Health Disparities

Published in: Community Health Equity Research & Policy (2023). doi: 10.1177/2752535X231151850

Posted on rand.org Jul 7, 2023

by Malcolm V. Williams, Karen Rocío Flórez, Cheryl Branch, Jennifer Hawes-Dawson, Michael Mata, Clyde W. Oden, Kathryn Pitkin Derose

Partnerships between public health and faith-based organizations draw on the strengths of both sectors to achieve a shared interest in promoting health and reducing disparities. However, information about implementation of faith and public health partnerships-particularly those involving diverse racial-ethnic groups-is limited. This paper reports on findings from qualitative interviews conducted with 16 public health and congregational leaders around the country as part of the early phase of the development of a faith and public health partnership to address health disparities in Los Angeles, CA. We identified eight themes regarding the barriers and facilitators to building faith and public health partnerships and distilled these into 10 lessons for developing such approaches. These interviews identified that engaging religious organizations often requires building congregational capacity of the congregation to participate in health programs; and that trust is a critically important element of these relationships. Further, trust is closely related to how well each organization involved in the partnership understands their partners' belief structures, approaches to addressing health and well-being and capacities to contribute to the partnership. Tailoring congregational health programs to match the interests, needs and capacity of partners was identified as an important approach to ensuring that the partnership is successful. But, this is complicated by working across multiple faith traditions and the racial-ethnic backgrounds, thus requiring increased and diverse communication strategies on the part of the partnership leadership. These lessons provide important information for faith and public health leaders interested in developing partnered approaches to address health in diverse urban communities.

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