Faith-Based Organizations, Science, and the Pursuit of Health

Establishing a national faith-based health research network could improve health care in communities underserved by the health care system.

Faith-based organizations (FBOs) have unmatched influence within their communities; churches and congregations are intertwined with complex social networks; FBOs provide food, health care, education and jobs.

This article proposes establishing a national faith-based health research network. FBOs can use their strong community ties to improve health outcomes and eliminate health disparities; FBOs are often present in areas outside of the health care system.

The three Goals of a National Faith-Based Health Research Network:

  1. Increase the capacity of FBOs to evaluate the health of their communities.
  2. Contribute new knowledge about best practices for health promotion and health care delivery (a national FBO research network might help identify religious leaders who are distinctly qualified to conduct health research).
  3. Disseminate research findings through the network.

Constructing a national faith-based health research network will be challenging because FBOs lack standardized processes and protocols. An FBO network will have to incorporate many conflicting belief systems and practices. Still, a national faith-based research network can generate new health research and improve health outcomes.