Congregational involvement has been promoted as a way to help reduce health disparities among African Americans and Latinos in the U.S;however, the multifaceted health needs found in many urban areas, as well as the complex set of factors leading to health inequalities, mean that broad and sustainable, multi- ethnic, multi-denominational faith and health partnerships are needed. The goal of this project is to build a network of African-American and Latino congregational leaders, public health partners, and researchers to jointly reduce disparities in South Los Angeles (LA).
The specific aims of the project are: 1) Develop a sustainable faith and public health partnership to build capacity to address health disparities experienced by Latinos and African Americans;2) Jointly develop an intervention to leverage congregational and public health resources toward the goal of reducing disparities in outcomes for Latinos and African Americans for an identified health condition;3) Pilot test the feasibility and acceptability of the intervention among African American and Latino congregations. The specific health condition and intervention strategy used will be defined by a Steering Committee composed of key denominational and inter-denominational associations and public health entities serving South Los Angeles, together with researchers at the RAND Corporation and its primary community partner, Los Angeles Metropolitan Churches (LAM);based on initial input, the focus will likely be on one of three health issues: cancer, obesity, or HIV. The study will be collaborative throughout all stages, and we will develop strategies to strengthen the partnership's capacity to address health disparities beyond the focus on this initial condition. The partnership is innovative in bringing together religious, public health, and research organizations to address health disparities jointly and in using novel techniques for soliciting community input. Further, it emphasizes mutual capacity building and sustainability so that researchers are better able to design and evaluate interventions;congregations gain knowledge about community health issues and skills in conducting health programs;and public health practitioners contribute to and learn from the development of best practices in promoting community health.
This will be the first multi-ethnic, multi-denominational faith and public health research partnership that aims to reduce health disparities in an on-going and interactive fashion and using novel techniques to obtain community input. This effort will lead to an in-depth understanding of diverse faith community perspectives on health disparities and the potential for addressing them through congregation-based programming.