Church and the Healthcare Needs of the Community

Healthcare in churches is not discussed much, as the topic remains controversial. However, studies have shown that when faith-based communities are willing to engage with healthcare communities, there are better health care outcomes. In addition, these partnerships have been beneficial for high-risk populations which typically include ethnic, race, and poor populations. Churches and faith-based organizations have been paramount in the development of a rapport with members and communities. These settings are ideal for instilling the importance of health improvement in individuals and communities. Development of health programs can improve access to healthcare services, potentially prevent poor health outcomes, and increase the awareness amongst members of the congregation. Further, this modality would likely increase screenings for preventable diseases. Despite research noting positive outcomes in health through faith-based services, there are few programs that address screenings and examinations. Much of the information that is received by individuals is through media and the internet. In part, this method of information seeking happens as a result of limited income, mistrust of healthcare systems and providers, and decreased access to healthcare services. By establishing church-based health programs, the aim should be focused on eliminating health disparities in both individuals and the communities in which these individuals live. Globally, instilling healthcare knowledge in underserved communities can translate into increased knowledge, seeking out healthcare, and promotion of wellness. Further, faith-based health and wellness can increase the understanding related to self-care, disease processes, and management. Moreover, the congregation has an outlet for asking questions regarding their individualized health concerns. Health promotion activities that are conducted through faith-based organizations align with positive outcomes for both individuals and the community alike. Research has shown that approximately 57% of faith-based organizations are currently offering social service programs that address problems with homelessness, substance and domestic abuse, food, and clothing drives. However, there were fewer contributions for health care promotion and prevention programs noted. Research has shown that individuals are more vested in healthcare through the influence of their church-family systems and are more likely to obtain medical wellness examinations and screenings when needed. When there are inclusive health programs that promote wellness and disease prevention, studies have noted increased members of the congregation seeking out routine screenings such as pap-smears and colonoscopies. Churches are ideal for health promotion and disease prevention resulting in more positive outcomes associated with health. These include changes in smoking, alcohol intake, drug use, and sexual practices. Their ability to influence change in health amongst their members is strong and results in enhanced health outcomes to decrease members’ health risks. The contributions of health through congregational systems is advantageous to all members. This additional resource can help to breakdown barriers while increasing health awareness. However, churches and faith-based organizations will need to partner with their respective congregations to determine needs and to begin the discussion of what is important in health throughout the community. This will garner both the needs and buy-in of members.

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