221434 Lessons learned in faith-based environmental health outreach in vulnerable communities

Wednesday, November 10, 2010 : 9:10 AM - 9:30 AM

Neasha Graves, MPA , UNC Center for Environmental Health and Susceptibility, University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC
Faith-based health initiatives are expanding, and educators who desire to work in this arena must be prepared to provide meaningful information in an appropriate format, especially for vulnerable populations disproportionately affected by environmental health issues. African American audiences have been shown to be responsive to health interventions through faith-based community outreach (Campbell, 2007). The Environmental Resource Program (ERP) in the UNC-Chapel Hill Institute for the Environment has collaborated with traditional African American churches to provide important environmental health information for at-risk communities in North Carolina. With thousands of predominantly African American churches in low income and minority communities, this approach maximizes the number of citizens empowered to address environmental health hazards disproportionately affecting them and can be utilized as a tool toward achieving social justice. Over 400 adult and youth church members have learned about risks for environmentally-related diseases and actions to reduce those risks. Evaluations have indicated increased knowledge among participants following workshops and, in some cases, an intention to change behavior. Further, preliminary results of follow up surveys indicate that adult participants took some of the recommended actions to reduce their disease risk. We will describe strategies pursued in ERP's faith-based outreach—which generally correlate with those recommended for church-based health promotion (CBHP) interventions, such as maintaining ongoing relationships with church communities, effectively using the pastoral leadership to promote outreach initiatives, and training lay health advisors—and we will also share lessons learned in our work.

Learning Areas:
Diversity and culture
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Public health or related education

Learning Objectives:
Define principles and methods of faith-based outreach and how to implement them. Identify opportunities to develop and leverage relationships that will lead to long-term partnerships within the faith community in vulnerable communities.

Keywords: Faith Community, Environmental Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I coordinate programming and conduct workshops focused on environmental health education.
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.