Faith-based interventions to promote oral health may be important to consider in some communities because these settings have traditionally been places where people trust the information provided. Members of a faith community may be more likely to adhere to the messages conveyed across the pulpit or through faith leaders than through other sources. Faith-based programs to address oral health may include interventions focused on the individual or the physical environment (e.g., education, nutritious foods available at church functions). In addition, some recent evidence suggests the importance of developing faith-based programs that enhance social support for individuals to have healthy lifestyle behaviors (e.g., brushing or flossing, visiting the dentist regularly).
Previous work in faith-based settings has found:
- Adding oral health messages in church bulletins can reach populations in that might not respond to messages provided in other settings. Health messages may be trusted more coming from faith-based communities as opposed to the community at large.
- Based on success in recruiting and retaining individuals, along with positive outcomes, churches are an excellent setting in which to implement and evaluate health education programs for the African American community, especially those in the middle to upper socioeconomic status, who are under-represented in health promotion interventions
- Churches are an important setting in which to conduct oral health education sessions, since a high percentage of African Americans attend church and view it as an important institution within their community.
- Churches are conducive to group education programs since they typically have meeting space and other facilities.