Women's College Research Institute

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Supporting church-based health promotion programs for older adults

From Impact, May 2014

Older adultsOlder adults are at an increased risk for developing heart disease, diabetes and other chronic conditions. Since many older adults in Canada attend religious service in churches, church-based health promotion programs could be an effective way to educate and promote healthy living among this population.

“Although studies indicate that churches are ideal places to conduct health promotion programs for older adults, no one has studied what factors are needed to facilitate the implementation of these programs,” says Dr. Ananya Banerjee, a registered kinesiologist at Women’s College Hospital and postdoctoral fellow at Women’s College Research Institute.

Banerjee recently led a study that for the first time attempted to understand what would be necessary to design church-based heart health promotion programs for older adults in Anglican, United, and Catholic churches. She conducted semistructured interviews and focus groups with ordained pastors and older parishioners in Toronto and Hamilton and found that pastor leadership, funding for a parish nurse, community-focused interventions, secured infrastructure, and social support from congregation members were pertinent factors for developing and implementing the programs.

“Our findings provide the first-ever framework of factors that health promotion practitioners and church leaders can follow when aiming to implement health programs for older adults in a religious institution,” says Banerjee.

The study was published in the American Journal of Health Promotion.

 

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