198187 Understanding the True Relationship Between Faith and Health: Theory and Evidence From the GoodNEWS (Genes, Nutrition, Exercise, Wellness and Spiritual Growth) Project

Tuesday, November 10, 2009: 9:29 AM

Jenny Jeonghee Lee, PhD, MPH, CHES , Department of Health, Physical Education, and Exercise Science, College of Education and Health Professions, Columbus State University, Columbus, GA
Mark J. DeHaven, Ph D , Department of Clinical Sciences, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, TX
Tikisa Walker, MS , Family and Community Medicine, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, TX
The GoodNEWS (Genes, Nutrition, Exercise, Wellness and Spiritual Growth) Project combines faith and science principles into a program promoting health and wellbeing among individuals and communities. In pilot studies sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in twelve inner-city congregations (2003 – 2005), the program contributed to participants (n=22) exercising three times a week (p=.02), consuming fruit and vegetables three or more times a day (p=.01), and avoiding fried foods (p=.03). The project has collaborated with 80 congregations, trained more than 150 Lay Health Promoters, and is presently engaged in a five-year National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute study testing its affect on reducing risk factors for cardiovascular disease among members of twenty-eight congregations. The project explains outcomes through the interaction of faith and science. Simply speaking, recent epigenetic studies demonstrate that although the types of chemicals (food, liquid, and air) we put into our bodies affect our health, equally important to health outcomes are the types of messages (thoughts and feelings, perceptions and beliefs, and values and attitudes) we receive and share with others. Therefore, living as recommended by faith traditions – with love, forgiveness, hopefulness, and other positive messages – is essential for promoting health. The GoodNEWS faith-health-science approach will be explained and supported using evidence from GoodNEWS pilot studies (2003 – 2005), validation studies (2005 – 2007), and clinical trial baseline data (2008). Emphasis will be placed on understanding how positive ways of thinking and behaving provide the foundation for “healthy” living patterns, and contribute to positive health outcomes

Learning Objectives:
Present an overview of the GoodNEWS approach for combining faith and health. Describe the rationale for combining faith and health from the perspective of recent epigenetic evidence. Discuss recent advances in knowledge about the epigenome and how beliefs contribute to positive (or negative) health outcomes. Identify the factors and components of health from a comprehensive perspective combining faith and science.

Keywords: Faith Community, Genetics

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have been working with community-based lifestyle enhancement in the faith community for more than a decade, and have training in the primary area of the proposed abstract's focus on therapeutic lifestyle interventions and neuroscience.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.