Teaching Health Equity at the Community Level: Engaging Faith Based Organisations in Teaching Community Based Nutritional and Health Behaviours

Improving health equity at the community level requires a culturally competent teaching pedagogy. Conveying messages in ways that translate knowledge into practice is one step, but of equal importance is building the correct partnerships to engage the community and assist them in the incorporation of new behaviors into existing social structures. The National Center for Pacific Islander Wellness (NCPIW) located at the University of Michigan is developing teaching tools and educational forums to address nutritional concerns associated with the high rates of chronic obesity seen among Pacific Islanders in the United States in across the independent countries that make up the Pacific. While the problems associated with obesity among Pacific Islanders are well established; poor nutrition, lack of activity, depression and lack of preventative medical care, attempts to address these issues through health education have been largely unsuccessful. The outcomes of these failed interventions include increased morbidity and mortality due to heart disease, hypertension, diabetes and cancer as well as growing problems with disability. This presentation will report on new approaches to community engagement initiated by the NCPIW which presents nutritional and health education in a presentation format that is culturally relevant to Pacific Islander families and communities. The approach benefits from partnerships with local Pacific Islander Faith-Based-Communities who can regulate and influence individual behaviours due to the social importance of religiosity among Pacific Islanders. The presentation will summarise recent findings and provide guidance as to how this approach can be applied to other multicultural communities facing health challenges.

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Posted by IAFOR