Faith-based organizations can support and deliver diabetes prevention and management programs in rural communities. Examples of faith-based organizations include churches, synagogues, mosques, meeting houses, and other places of worship. They may be organized as congregations, national networks, or as free-standing organizations. For example, the YMCA is a national network of organizations that have implemented faith-based interventions.
Leaders of faith-based organizations can play an important role in the lives of members of faith communities. The shared confidence in information provided by faith-based organizations can be powerful. Healthcare professionals have recognized the important role of faith and spirituality in perceptions of health, disease, and healing.
Faith-based organizations can raise awareness, create healthy environments, and conduct diabetes prevention and management activities for members. Examples of diabetes strategies and activities implemented by faith-based organizations include:
- Sharing messages with members through lectures, newsletters, and announcements
- Providing access to information and resources on diabetes prevention and management
- Partnering with community coalitions that address diabetes
- Arranging educational activities within the organization
- Offering emotional and social support
- Organizing workshops and programs to support healthy living through nutrition and physical activity
- Conducting community outreach, screening, and education
- Providing healthy food and activities during planned events
- Implementing policies that support healthy behaviors within the organization
Faith-based organizations can work with community health workers (CHWs) to provide health information and other diabetes prevention and management support services.
Examples of Rural Diabetes Faith-Based Programs
- Partners in Health and Wellness (PHW) is a faith-based initiative developed by the North Carolina Council of Churches to help churches integrate health initiatives into their congressional communities. Churches may join the PHW Collaboration and apply for mini-grants to support various health initiatives, such as healthy snacks and church meals, exercise classes, community outreach, regular blood sugar checks, and other efforts designed to reduce and prevent diabetes and chronic disease.
- A faith-based initiative in Alabama, Saving Lives, provides information and resources to support health and wellness within communities, focusing on modifiable behaviors related to diabetes, hypertension, and cholesterol. The program coordinates health screenings and assessments, delivers workshops and informational toolkits, and supports health promotion activities and events within faith communities.
Partnerships are important for supporting faith-based interventions for diabetes prevention and management. Faith-based organizations can partner with existing community groups to connect members with information, resources, and support.
Faith-based community programming may include community outreach, screening, and diabetes education programs. Culturally competent care for different populations requires sensitivity to spirituality as a component of the individual's cultural identity.
Resources to Learn More
Toolkit: Diabetes Prevention and Management – Resources to Help You Help Others
Provides a variety of resources to help leaders from faith-based organizations promote diabetes prevention and management efforts. Covers organizing community-based education and outreach programs for people with or at risk of diabetes and creating healthy environments to support good food choices and safe physical activity.
Organization: National Diabetes Education Program, National Institutes of Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention