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The Influence of Faith on Health Perceptions & Health Care decision-making of Black Female Christian Congregants Brittaney J. Bethea, Regional Research Assistant Trainee – Advisor Dr. Sandy D. Maclin, Jr., M.Div., D. Min. Institute for Faith-Health Leadership, Interdenominational Theological Center – ITC, Atlanta, Georgia 2010. Abstract


Background: According to Healthy People 2010, African Americans account for only 12% of the population in the United States, yet African Americans, as a group, have the poorest health status indicators in the nation and are disproportionately represented among underserved populations (USDHHS, 2007).

Study Design An 80-item questionnaire was administered to individuals attending the Annual Pastors Conference in Atlanta, Georgia in January 2010.

A convenience sample of 220 Black persons among 400 attendees participated; 153 completed and returned the questionnaire. For the purpose of this study only the data from females were used. A sub-sample of African American females comprised the study sample. (N=66). Data was first entered into Questionnaire Development Evaluator (QDE) and then transferred into Statistical analysis System (SAS) and SPSS for dual analysis. The sample size (N) for this study is 66. Survey results covered: demographic, health/safety, health care, and faith/religion/health.

Results: Most women (57.58%) self- reported good health. Some (21.21%) even reported excellent health. Few women were told by their physicians they had asthma (15.15%), cancer (10.61%), or diabetes (28.79%). The majority (68.18%) of women did report they were told they had hypertension by their physicians. 22.73% never talk to their pastor about health problems or (27.27%) physician visits. (90.91%) feel good about themselves; and (90.91%) were in good spirits most times. 95.45% felt religion was very important in their life; 98.46% thought religion affects physical/mental health 96.97% believe faith can change a health crisis. Most described religion and faith differently.

Survey Instrument Used To Collect the Information •The assessment tool was a 14-page, 80-question survey consisting of three major sections including relevant demographic information. • Demographic variables included sex, marital status, number of persons living in the household, educational level, employment status, and yearly household income. • Section 1 of the survey instrument included 31 items to determine knowledge, attitudes and behaviors regarding health and safety issues such as general health status, exercise, eating and drinking habits, smoking, sleep behavior, emotional and/or psychological well-being, social involvement, seatbelt usage, and the environment •Section 2 of the survey consisted of 19 items that measured knowledge, attitudes and behaviors about health care practices including access to health services, health utilization and finance, screening patterns, and prevalence of reported health conditions. •Section 3 of the survey instrument included 22 questions and assessed the knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors relative to faith, religion, and health influences and decision-making.

Discussion: Responses to religion/faith affirm the interconnectedness of faith and health. Black women Christian congregants are empowered by religion and faith to deem their health status as positive, despite their diagnosis of hypertension. Perceptions attached to health practices, health decision-making, and continuous healthcare utilization should all have equal parts in obtaining optimal health

Introduction •As heath disparities continue to persist, National U.S reports provide snapshot pictures of the nation’s health, acknowledging the diversity and variance among individuals; • Since the 1985 Secretarial Task Force report on Black and Minority Health,, there has been little improvement in the relative Black-White mortality gap .

Results 70 60







Figure 3.1 Presence of Stress 92.42% of women said that they sometimes feel stressed. 100 90 80 70 60

References Chissell, John T., Pyramids of Power! An Ancient African Centered Approach to Optimal Health (Baltimore, MD: Positive Perceptions Publications, 1993) Drayton-Brooks, S., and White, N. (2004). Health promoting behaviors among African American Women with faith based support. The ABNF Journal, 84-90. Musgrave C., Allen, C., and Allen, G. (2008). Spirituality and Health of Women of Color. American Journal of Public Health Satcher, David, Fryer, G., McCann, J., Troutman, A., Woolf, S., and Rust, G. (2005) “What if We Were Equal? A Comparison of The Black White Mortality Gap in 1960 and 2000” . Health Affairs, 24(2): 459-464. Walker, Bailus. Mays, V., Warren, R., “The Changing Landscape for the Elimination of Racial/Ethnic Health Status Disparities” Warren, Rueben C., “The Impact of Horizontal and Vertical Dimensions of Faith on Health and Health Care” The Journal of the Interdenominational Theological Center, 71-85.

Yes No

50 40 30 20 10 0

Warren, Rueben C., “Vital Dimensions: An Inquiry into the Ultimate Foundations of Optimal Health” Warren, Rueben C., Lockett, Harold C.J., Zulfiquar, Adrian A., “The Social Context for Faith and Health”

Health care results included: Figure 4.1 diagnosed diseases


68.18% of women had been told they have hypertension.28.79% Diabetes,15.15% asthma, 10.61% Cancer,, 42.42% HIV/AIDS. Physician Diagnosis of Conditions

hypertension diabetes asthma cancer HIV/AIDS

Faith, Health& Religion results included: Figure 5.1 Discussion of Doctor’s visits with pastor

100 0 Figure 6.1

•The responses to faith, religion and health affirm the interplay of faith and health on healthy behaviors and healthcare decision-making. •Results of this study provides insight that Black faith plays a dynamic role in sustaining Black life. • Data demonstrates that these Black Women Christian Congregants consider their religion, faith and the connection of faith to their lives to be determinants of their health status and health care decisions. •Data also supports that in some cases the perception of health may not coincide with the physicians diagnosis. •Therefore there must be a balance between faith and healthy practices in addition to sustained health care utilization.

Women discuss their doctor visits with their pastor most of the time (30.30%),some of the time (24.24%), Conclusion hardly ever(18.18%), and never •The relationship between faith and health impacting (27.27%). attitudes and behaviors of women can result in better health outcomes.


Importance of Religion in life

Important somehwat important not important at all

95.45% of the women believe that religion is very important, 1.52% somewhat important, and 1.52% not important at all.

• When considering health holistically, recognizing faith and spirituality is critical in assessing the health status of Black women. •Continued research efforts should be preformed to explore possible negative impacts health perceptions influenced by faith may have on health disparities.


Figure 7.1 Belief of faith affecting health crisis status

40 30

Excellent 0

Very Important

Demographic results included: •57.58% of the women were married. •Figure 1.1 Marital status off conference attendees



•The purpose of this presentation is to highlight the need for indepth observations of minority groups and their health trends, as well as the associations between faith, health, and healthcare among the selected group of Christian Congregants.

Don't Know Poor


Methodology: In 2010, a convenience sample of 220 Black persons among 400 attendees of an Annual Pastors conference participated in the study; 153 men and women completed and returned an 80-item questionnaire. For the purpose of this study, only data from the females were analyzed.

•There is lacking National literature that presents an association between faith, spirituality and health. Essentially, ignoring the sociological circumstances that influence health.

Figure 2.1 Rating of personal general health. 57.58% described their health status as good.

Participant criteria consisted of individuals who selfidentified as non-Hispanic/ Black. Participants were at least eighteen years of age and a conference attendee.

Purpose: The purpose of this study is to analyze the influence of faith on health perceptions and health care decision-making among a selected group of African American female congregants.

•The W.H.O. provides a vague definition of health that does not consider the many other factors that contribute to an individual’s well-being. One of those factors being faith and spirituality.

Health and safety results included:

57.58% 1.52 1.52% 6.06% 0.08% % 21.21%

0 Single






96.97% of women believe faith can change one’s health crisis status

Limitations of this study involve only the analysis of descriptive statistics. There is a need for further study to include inferential statistics.

Acknowledgements Yes No

1.52% women do not believe faith can change one’s health crisis status. 1.52% believe it can sometimes.

This research was facilitated at The Institute for Faith-Health Leadership under the guidance of Dr. Rueben C. Warren, Dr. Sandy Maclin, Attorney James, and Ms. Tramaine Paul. I would like to thank you all for your continued support.

"The Influence of Faith on Health Perceptions..."