Rethinking the Role of Clergy as Consumer Health Educators

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Objective: Many people in the Appalachian region turn to their churches in times of crisis. A diagnosis of cancer is seen as a personal and family crisis. The purpose of this study is to partner with a regional comprehensive cancer control coalition and an interdenominational group of religious professionals to identify, develop, and test contents for a set of classes to better prepare and educate religious leaders who regularly are required to assist their church members with a diagnosis of cancer.

Methods: This project will be done in four steps.
1. identify elements of a cancer curriculum for preachers
2. develop learning modules and install lessons on computer tablets
3. pilot use of tablets with two clusters of two community preachers
4. evaluate changes in knowledge and sense of communication with medical professionals
Data will be analyzed using focus groups both before and after the use of the tablets with the community preachers.

Results: Two cohorts of eight pastors were selected from two remote rural regions. Four modules were located on iPad devices that covered various aspects of consumer health information including MedlinePlus, communication issues, and development of health information outreach as a component of ministry. Data collection and analysis is ongoing.

Conclusions: Using clergy and other nontraditional delivery venues for consumer health information is well worth pursuing.


Minneanapolis, MN

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