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Rural Health Information Hub

Faith-Based Interventions

Religious institutions provide social welfare services in communities. Rural program planners may leverage the social networks and capacity of faith-based organizations in designing tobacco cessation and prevention programs. For example, rural communities may develop a culturally-tailored smoking cessation program that can be delivered in faith-based organizations, or collaborate with faith-based organization leaders to provide congregants with cessation education materials.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) includes faith-based organizations as a key partner in their Tips from Former Smokers communications campaign.

Examples of Faith-Based Interventions

  • The University of Kentucky School of Medicine worked with 26 rural churches in Appalachian Kentucky to implement a faith-oriented smoking cessation program, Faith Moves Mountains, with over 590 smokers. Participants appreciated the program's ability to reduce the costs of smoking cessation and increase peer accountability.
  • The Southern Coalfields Tobacco Prevention Network works with faith-based organizations to conduct education about tobacco cessation. Local churches allow tobacco cessation counselors from the network to staff their food-delivery program. When the counselors deliver the food into homes, they have conversations about tobacco use with members of the community. Counselors are able to deliver brief interventions on the spot, and refer community members to the quitline or local cessation classes.
  • Churches and other faith-based organizations can connect their members to local “Freedom from Smoking” group clinics. A program of the National Lung Association, “Freedom from Smoking” uses trained facilitators to walk participants through the process of quitting. In 8 sessions, participants learn to manage stress, make lifestyle changes, avoid weight gain, and prepare for quit day, among other topics.

Considerations for Implementation

Partnerships with faith-based communities for tobacco cessation and prevention efforts can occur on a continuum. At a low level of engagement, program planners may connect with faith-based partners to discuss how to involve their congregants in a community program. Planners may also wish to ask faith-based organizations if they would be interested in disseminating or sharing information about their intervention.

Higher levels of engagement can involve holding tobacco cessation education classes at faith-based organizations, training faith leaders to provide education about tobacco cessation and prevention, and partnering with a faith-based program to conduct outreach to community members.

Program planners should engage faith-based partners from the outset of the program to begin building trust and determine the best way to involve the faith-based community in their tobacco cessation and prevention efforts.

Program Clearinghouse Example

Resources to Learn More

Partnerships with Faith-based & Community-Based Organizations: Engaging America's Grassroots Organizations in Promoting Public Health
This report describes how the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have successfully worked with faith- and community-based organizations to address public health concerns.
Organization(s): Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Date: 6/2008

A Rural Appalachian Faith-Placed Smoking Cessation Intervention
This journal article describes the implementation of a smoking cessation program called Faith Moves Mountains program that the University of Kentucky School of Medicine implemented in rural Appalachia.
Author(s): Schoenberg, N.E., Bundy, H.E., Baeker Bispo, J.A., Studts, C.R., Shelton, B.J., & Fields, N.
Citation: Journal of Religion and Health, 54(2), 598–611
Date: 4/2015