The programme

The Faith & Diabetes programme seeks to empower diverse communities of faith in Houston to better understand and address diabetes awareness, prevention, and management with particular attention to religious belief, practice and community life.

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The programme is co-created directly with community stakeholders and has produced a flexible and impactful learning framework in which faith and health are linked. The initiative has been able to elevate awareness by drawing upon the unique capability of faith communities to enrich health education and positively influence people’s lives.

The community health leaders inspired and trained by Faith & Diabetes have, to-date, become empowered to serve a population of more than 75,000 Christian, Muslim and Hindu residents, many of whom are living with diabetes. The initiative has flourished from concept to reality and continues to gain momentum. Solid foundations for the future have been laid and the evidence from attendees shows a positive correlation between desired goals and health outcomes. The initiative has effectively connected with hard-to-reach-groups and has inspired a culture of health.

Change in participants’ diabetes-related knowledge: 

  • 233 people living with diabetes were enrolled in classes
  • 132 completed all the classes
  • 33 completed both pre- and post-assessments of diabetes self-management knowledge.

● Houses of faith are sometimes challenging to work with because trust with academia, medicine, and industry has been broken in the past. Persevere - it’s worth it.

● Process must be run on the terms of the houses of faith, not lead organisations.

● Homework prompts self-reflection and deep curiosity about traditions, even for those who are lifetime adherents.

● It is tempting to instrumentalise faith communities (and faith itself), but we must resist this impulse.

● From the outset ask how health can enhance faith, not only other way around.

● Promote interfaith dialogue - the fundamental challenge and desired outcomes are universal. This is most effective when encouragement is implicit, not explicit.

Institute for Spirituality and Health, TMF Health Quality Institute (formerly Texas Medical Foundation), Cities Changing Diabetes Houston, University of Texas School of Public Health, Houston Diabetes Peer Support Network.