Health programs in faith-based organizations: are they effective?

Am J Public Health. 2004 Jun;94(6):1030-6. doi: 10.2105/ajph.94.6.1030.


Objectives: We examined the published literature on health programs in faith-based organizations to determine the effectiveness of these programs.

Methods: We conducted a systematic literature review of articles describing faith-based health activities. Articles (n = 386) were screened for eligibility (n = 105), whether a faith-based health program was described (n = 53), and whether program effects were reported (28).

Results: Most programs focused on primary prevention (50.9%), general health maintenance (25.5%), cardiovascular health (20.7%), or cancer (18.9%). Significant effects reported included reductions in cholesterol and blood pressure levels, weight, and disease symptoms and increases in the use of mammography and breast self-examination.

Conclusions: Faith-based programs can improve health outcomes. Means are needed for increasing the frequency with which such programs are evaluated and the results of these evaluations are disseminated.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Health Promotion*
  • Program Evaluation*
  • Religion and Medicine*
  • United States
  • Urban Population