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Developing a religious health fatalism measure for the African-American faith community

Monica D. Franklin, MA and David G. Schlundt, PhD. Department of Psychology, Vanderbilt University, 301 Wilson Hall, Nashville, TN 37203, (615) 322-7800, monica.d.franklin@vanderbilt.edu

Health researchers have struggled to better understand the barriers to improved health in the African-American community. Currently, one of the most promising venues for targeting African-Americans is the church. Studies have shown both positive and negative associations between religion and health beliefs and behaviors. For a subset of religious persons, we hypothesized that religious fatalism will predict unhealthy beliefs and behavior. These beliefs are especially important in understanding how individuals approach both personalized health care services and community health promotion interventions. We developed a measure of religious fatalism and conducted a preliminary validation study. Focus groups and key informant interviews were used to generate 25 questionnaire items. Two hundred ninety two (71% female) members of seven predominantly African-American churches in Nashville, Tennessee participated. Factor analysis and reliability testing show that the measure has three factors representing the following constructs: 1) Divine Provision, 2) Destined Plan and 3) Helpless Inevitability (Alpha reliability coefficients = .89, .75 and .66). Construct validity analyses show significant correlations with the God Locus of Health Control Scale for each factor, the Santa Clara Strength of Faith Questionnaire for factors 1 and 3, and with the Chance/Fate dimension of the Multi-dimensional Health Locus of Control Scale (MDHLC) for factors 2 and 3. Factor 3 also showed a significant correlation with the Powerful Others dimension of the MDHLC Scale. The religious health fatalism scale may be a useful tool for studying health beliefs and behaviors when working in faith-based settings.

Learning Objectives:

Keywords: Faith Community, Minority Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:
I do not have any significant financial interest/arrangement or affiliation with any organization/institution whose products or services are being discussed in this session.

Faith and Health Collaborations That Work

The 132nd Annual Meeting (November 6-10, 2004) of APHA