Friday, July 13, 2007
This presentation is part of : Innovations in Health Promotion
A Community Approach to Preterm Birth Awareness Involving Health Ministry Volunteers
Doris Boutain, PhD, RN, Psychosocial and Community Health, University of Washington, Seattle, WA, USA
Learning Objective #1: identify three reasons for promoting health awareness of preterm birth disparity among faith congregations.
Learning Objective #2: describe two models of how to partner with faith communities to promote health awareness.

 Background: The United States faith-based initiative encourages faith communities to promote health disparity awareness, especially among populations most at risk for those disparities. The use of faith focused approaches for preterm birth disparity awareness, however, are sparse. Most faith focused approaches are designed for participant recruitment in research projects, health screenings or health fairs. Much needed are projects that showcase how to engage faith congregations, and facilitate preterm birth awareness based upon their congregational values. 

 Objective: This presentation will describe how a preterm birth awareness project entitled, “Health Ministry Volunteers Promote a Better Chance for Healthy Babies, Healthy Families”, was created, evaluated and revised with the input of six urban, faith-based congregations.

 Project Design: Health ministry volunteers, persons formally assigned by congregations to promote health, were involved in the project. Two health ministry volunteers participated from six different congregations. Health ministry volunteers were from Baptist (n=2), Missionary Baptist (n=2), Catholic (n=1) and Methodist (n=1) faith denominations. Four 2-hour workshops, spaced 1-2 months apart, were held within one year. One to two individual group meetings with health ministry volunteers also occurred.  

 Findings: Health ministry volunteers devised preterm birth awareness projects based upon their congregational strengths and resources. Health ministry projects, for example, promoted collective storytelling, visual awareness of the challenges of a preterm infant, and health information dissemination. Each congregation adapted a health awareness framework that was consistent with the mission of their congregation, and health ministry.

 Implications: Awareness projects can be effectively developed and received if they are based on the missionary values of a congregation. Health ministries, utilizing their strengths, focused on the social determinants of preterm birth disparity. Projects were tailored to congregational strengths and missionary values.


Acknowledgements: The project was funded by the March of Dimes. Appreciated is extended to the health ministry volunteers and workshop facilitators.