243483 You Gotta Have Faith!: An Ethnographic Study of Faith-Based Workers Influence on Adolescent Sexual Health

Tuesday, November 1, 2011: 8:30 AM

Quinn Gentry, MBA, PhD , Urban Health Institute, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD
Debra Hickman, MDiv , Sisters Together and Reaching, Inc., Baltimore, MD
Robert W. Blum, MD, MPH, PhD , Bloomberg School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD
The Johns Hopkins Urban Health Institute in collaboration with Sisters Together and Reaching, Inc. (STAR) was awarded an NIH Grant (R21) to better understand the influence on adolescents of youth ministers within African American churches located in low income, urban communities with disproportionately high rates of teen pregnancy, HIV/AIDS, and STD infections. This study is the first of its kind to rigorously explore the impact of faith-based youth ministers and youth workers on adolescent sexual and reproductive health behaviors. In reality, the faith-based community is much more dynamic in terms of influence than past public health research focusing primarily on pastors as the primary influencers suggests. More specifically, a lack of understanding of the influence of youth ministers may explain in part the limitations of past attempts to intervene with adolescents at risk for pregnancy, HIV and STIs especially within the lowest income communities of the United States where the Black Church has its greatest influence.

Preliminary data indicated that in the 10 neighborhoods with the worse teen pregnancy outcomes in Baltimore, there are approximately 400 faith-based organizations in these same communities with varying degrees of protective strategies for young people. Moreover, we examined several social determinants of teen pregnancy, including socio-economic factors, as well as violence, neglect, and abuse dynamics that may influence rates of teen pregnancy. This study has the potential to contribute to the development of more effective sexual and reproductive health promoting strategies engaging those within the faith community who most directly work with young people.

Learning Areas:
Administer health education strategies, interventions and programs
Advocacy for health and health education
Assessment of individual and community needs for health education
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Program planning
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
A.Explore how epidemiological data was used to develop an ethnographic study to explore the influence youth ministers have with: a) the pastors and ministers of their church; b) the parents and guardians of church-going adolescents; and c) their direct influence on, the adolescents themselves. B.Examine the extent to which youth ministers currently address sexual and reproductive health issues C.Identify both opportunities and barriers in the Black Church to the implementation of evidence-based comprehensive sex education and reproductive health promoting strategies

Keywords: Faith Community, Adolescent Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I serve as a post-doctoral fellow for the this NIH study; and have over a decade of experience in ethnographic research methods
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.