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Although numerous studies suggest that religious involvement is associated with a wide range of favorable health outcomes, it is unclear whether this general pattern extends to cellular aging. In this paper, we tested whether leukocyte telomere length varies according to several dimensions of religious involvement. We used cross-sectional data from the Nashville Stress and Health Study (2011-2014), a large probability sample of 1252 black and white adults aged 22 to 69 living in Davidson County, TN, USA. Leukocyte telomere length was measured using the monochrome multiplex quantitative polymerase chain reaction method with albumin as the single-copy reference sequence. Dimensions of religious involvement included religiosity, religious support, and religious coping. Our multivariate analyses showed that religiosity (an index of religious attendance, prayer frequency, and religious identity) was positively associated with leukocyte telomere length, even with adjustments for religious support, religious coping, age, gender, race, education, employment status, income, financial strain, stressful life events, marital status, family support, friend support, depressive symptoms, smoking, heavy drinking, and allostatic load. Unlike religiosity, religious support and religious coping were unrelated to leukocyte telomere length across models. Depressive symptoms, smoking, heavy drinking, and allostatic load failed to explain any of the association between religiosity and telomere length. To our knowledge, this is the first population-based study to link religious involvement and cellular aging. Although our data suggest that adults who frequently attend religious services, pray with regularity, and consider themselves to be religious tend to exhibit longer telomeres than those who attend and pray less frequently and do not consider themselves to be religious, additional research is needed to establish the mechanisms underlying this association.
Copyright © 2016 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
YOUR Blessed Health (YBH) is a faith-based HIV prevention pilot program designed to increase faith-based organizations' capacity to address HIV/AIDS among African American congregations. Faith leaders (e.g., pastors, pastors' spouses) were trained to deliver youth and adult HIV education sessions. Perceptions of comfort with discussing 11 sexual health topics were assessed after program implementation. Twenty-nine faith leaders self-reported their comfort discussing sexual behaviors, sexual communication, and sexual abuse. Overall, faith leaders were comfortable discussing these sexual health topics; however, denominational and leadership role differences were found. These findings suggest African American faith leaders are willing to lead faith-based HIV prevention efforts, but that consideration of denominational differences and organizational roles in faith-based health promotion programs is critical.
This study describes the ways in which two African-American churches discuss adolescent sexual health topics. Six focus groups were conducted in two churches in Flint, Michigan, that reported no formal sexual health programming for their congregants. Three themes emerged to highlight the different perspectives about the role of churches in adolescent sexual decision-making and sexual health education: (1) churches as sources of sexual information, (2) churches as complex communities, and (3) recommendations for sexual education in churches. Participant responses suggest that churches can and should serve a resource for sexual health information. Implications for practice and research are discussed.
BACKGROUND - The rates of sexually transmitted infections (STIs; including HIV/AIDS) among African Americans in Flint, Michigan, are among the highest in the state. In Genesee County, where Flint is located, the incidence of HIV/AIDS cases increased at an average rate of 24% each year from 2003 to 2007 for adolescents between the ages of 13 and 19.
OBJECTIVES - YOUR Blessed Health (YBH) is a multilevel, faith-based HIV prevention program designed to increase HIV awareness and knowledge and reduce HIV risk behaviors among African American congregations. This article describes one of the five components of the intervention--training of faith leaders to implement a sexual health curriculum for adolescents in their congregations.
METHODS - Staff from YOUR Center, a community-based HIV service organization, and researchers from the University of Michigan, School of Public Health, partnered with faith-based organizations (FBOs) to address HIV/AIDS in Flint, Michigan.
RESULTS - Participating FBOs selected faith leaders to be trained by YOUR Center staff to implement the YBH program in their congregations. Using the HIV Outreach, Prevention and Education (HOPE) curriculum, faith leaders from 20 FBOs provided HIV education to 212 adolescents in Flint, Michigan.
CONCLUSION - Study findings demonstrate that faith leaders who participate in specific and ongoing HIV prevention education training can be useful sexual health resources for youth in faith-based settings. Implications for research and practice highlight the advantages of continued partnerships between FBOs and public health professionals in future HIV prevention efforts for adolescents.
Despite a growing bereavement literature, relatively little is known about what families find helpful after a child's death and how best to assist them during the grieving process. In this qualitative study, the authors explored advice from 40 families (65 parents, 39 siblings) of children who died from cancer 6-19 months earlier. Content analysis emphasized the individual nature of grief and revealed advice that fit into three temporal categories: before the death, soon after, and long-term. Findings are discussed in the context of contemporary theory and provide insight into the development and timing of grief interventions.
This study examined factors associated with brain donation program participation among African American and White elders. By postal mail, participants were recruited from an Alzheimer's research registry (all of whom had been invited to participate in the Center's brain donation program) and asked to complete surveys assessing brain donation knowledge, trust in healthcare systems, and religiousness. African American respondents completed a cultural mistrust inventory. Demographic, brain donation status, and literacy data (as assessed by the Wide Range Achievement Test-3 Reading subtest) were compiled from the respondents' most recent registry visit. The survey response rate was 60% (n=184 White and n=49 Black respondents). Logistic regression, comparing religiousness, trust in healthcare institutions, and educational attainment, identified a single predictor (ie, religiousness) in the prediction of donation status among White respondents (P=0.008), whereas no predictors were observed for donation status among the Black respondents. Using all African American donors and nondonors from the registry (n=68), comparisons revealed Wide Range Achievement Test-3 Reading score differences for African American donors (46.8±5.9) and nondonors (42.8±8.4, P=0.02). Results suggest that increased religiousness is related to White elders' decisions not to donate, whereas lower reading ability might be related to African American participants' decisions not to donate.
Copyright © 2011 by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins
Despite substantial federal, state, and local efforts to reduce the transmission of HIV/AIDS, African Americans experience higher rates of infection than any other ethnic or racial group in the United States. It is imperative to develop culturally and ecologically sensitive interventions to meet the sexual health needs of this population. Capitalizing on the assets, resources, and strengths of faith-based organizations, YOUR Blessed Health (YBH) is a community-based participatory research project developed to increase HIV/AIDS awareness and reduce HIV-related stigma among the African American faith community in Flint, Michigan. This article describes the historical context and development of YBH, discusses the results of the pilot study, and illustrates how YBH grew into a community mobilization effort led by faith leaders and their congregations to address HIV/AIDS. YBH highlights the importance of developing and testing intervention models that originate from community-based organizations to address complex and sensitive health issues among marginalized populations.
African American faith-based institutions are not necessarily equipped to balance their moral and spiritual missions and interpretation of religious doctrine with complex health issues such as human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). YOUR Blessed Health (YBH) is a faith-based, six-month pilot project designed to increase the capacity of faith-based institutions and faith leaders to address HIV/AIDS and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) in 11- to 19-year-old African Americans. In addition to increasing the knowledge and skills of young people, the intervention seeks to change churches' norms to provide more open settings where young people can talk with faith leaders about sex, relationships, STIs, and HIV/AIDS. YBH expands the roles of adult faith leaders, particularly pastors' spouses, to include health education as they implement the intervention in their congregations and communities. The intervention includes a flexible menu of activities for faith leaders to select from according to their institutional beliefs, doctrines, and culture.
Many studies find racial differences in prayer and religious practices, but few reports examine factors that help explain the effects of Hispanic ethnicity or African American race. A national survey conducted in 2002 collected data on 10 non-religious spiritual practices as well as on prayer for health reasons in 22,929 adults aged 18 years and over. We found marked racial and ethnic differences in the use of prayer and other spiritual practices for health reasons. Greater proportions of African Americans and Hispanic Americans than European Americans reported prayer for health reasons. Sociodemographic variables and health status could not explain these differences. Further, among those who reported prayer, African Americans were more likely than European Americans to report being prayed for by others. However, African American women and Hispanic women and men were significantly less likely than European Americans to use other spiritual practices such as meditation and Tai Chi. Surprisingly African American men were just as likely to report these practices as European American men. Sociodemographic variables and health status could not explain these differences.
INTRODUCTION - African American men have a significantly higher incidence of prostate cancer, are diagnosed at younger ages and more advanced stages, and have higher mortality rates from prostate cancer than do White men.
METHODS - This community-based intervention study employed a quasiexperimental delayed-control (crossover) design with randomization at the church level. Forty-five African American churches were randomly assigned to two study groups: early intervention and delayed intervention. A convenience sample of 430 African American male volunteers (ages 40-70) was enrolled through the churches, and 350 men remained in the study through wave 3. The intervention was a culturally tailored group educational program, which included a video and a question-and-answer session with an African American physician.
RESULTS - Within each group, knowledge, perceived threat, and screening prevalence all increased significantly. However, the magnitude of increases was similar, so the groups did not differ significantly at wave 2. Knowledge at wave 2 was associated with greater odds of having a digital rectal exam by wave 3 only for the early-intervention group. The early-intervention group was two times more likely to have talked to a physician about prostate cancer screening by wave 3.
CONCLUSIONS - The findings suggest that the delayed-intervention group did not function as a pure control and may have unintentionally received a partial intervention. This finding demonstrated that a low-cost prostate cancer awareness campaign within a church may be enough to affect prostate cancer knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors among African American men. Further research should examine the church-specific intervention elements, cultural appropriateness of the messages, and whether group sessions provide additional effect.