A Cross-Sectional Study of Faith-based Global Health Organizations to Assess the Feasibility of a Christian Research Collaborative

Keywords: global health, faith-based, developmet, research, evaluation


Background: Religiosity and spirituality are recognized determinants of health, yet many faith-based organizations do not conduct or publicly disseminate research or evaluation data to inform practice.  The purpose of this study was to assess the feasibility of establishing a collaborative to support small to medium-sized, Christian, global health organizations in producing stronger evidence regarding the practice and application of integral mission health models.

Methods: A cross-sectional study was done using a digital, mixed-method (open- and closed-ended questions) survey.  The survey was distributed through a convenience sample of Christian global health networks and member organizations representing over 1,000 primarily small to medium sized organizations.  Information was collected regarding organizational research and evaluation publication/presentation experience, collaborative interests, evaluation and research barriers, and priorities.  

Results: Responses totaled 116 and came from Christian health and development organizations in Africa, Asia, and North America.  The survey revealed three organizational research priorities and areas of desired assistance from a collaborative: 1) disseminating impacts, 2) evaluation skills and resources, including integral mission measurement tools, and 3) research design resources and services.  Interests varied depending on whether the organization was based inside or outside of the United States.

Discussion: The study aimed to identify priorities and barriers of Christian health organizations around research and outcomes evaluation.  The findings suggest that a Christian research collaborative is not only feasible but could serve organizations throughout the world that have a desire to conduct more rigorous evaluation and research studies and disseminate and publish their results yet lack the time, knowledge, or resources to do so.  Future studies should explore financial support systems to sustain a collaborative and create a model that could accommodate the different research and evaluation priorities depending on the location of the organization. 

Author Biography

Jason Paltzer, Baylor University

Dr. Paltzer is an assistant professor of epidemiology at Baylor University. He currently serves as a board member of Esperanca, a global health and development organization. Dr. Paltzer consults with faith-based health organizations in the areas of community assessment, evaluation, and program planning. He is also an assistant scientist with the University of Wisconsin where he received his PhD in Population Health Sciences in 2014.  Dr. Paltzer received his MPH from the University of Minnesota in 2003.  


Koenig HG. Religion, spirituality, and health: the research and clinical implications. ISRN Psychiatry. 2012:1-33. http://dx.doi.org/10.5402/2012/278730

Haakenstad A, Johnson E, Graves C, Olivier J, Duff J, Dieleman JL. Estimating the development assistance for health provided to faith-based organizations, 1990–2013. PLOS ONE. 2015;10(6): e0128389. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0128389

African Religious Health Assets Programme. Appreciating assets: the contribution of religion to universal access in Africa. Cape Town: African Religious Health Assets Programme, Report for the World Health Organization. 2006 [cited 2020 Nov 30]. Available from: http://www.irhap.uct.ac.za/irhap/research/pastprojects/assets

Schmid B, Thomas E, Olivier J, Cochrane JR. The contribution of religious entities to health in Sub-Saharan Africa. Cape Town: African Religious Health Assets Programme. 2008 [cited 2020 Nov 3]. Available from: http://www.irhap.uct.ac.za/irhap/research/pastprojects/healthcontribution

World Health Organization. Faith-based organizations play a major role in HIV/AIDS care and treatment in sub-Saharan Africa. Geneva, Switzerland: World Health Organization. 2007 [cited 2020 Nov 3]. Available from: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/news/notes/2007/np05/en/index.html

Olivier J, Wodon Q. Playing broken phone: assessing faith-inspired health care provision in Africa. Dev Practice. 2012;22(5-6).

World Health Organization. The World Health Report 2004: Changing history, community participation in public health. Geneva, Switzerland: World Health Organization. 2004 [cited 2020 Nov 3]. Available from: https://www.who.int/whr/2004/en/report04_en.pdf?ua=1

US Department of State. Building on firm foundations: the 2015 consultation on strengthening partnerships between faith-based organizations and PEPFAR to build capacity for sustained responses to HIV/AIDS. Washington, DC: US Department of State. 2015 [cited 2020 Nov 3]. Available from: https://www.state.gov/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/Building-on-Firm-Foundations-The-2015-Consultation-on-Strengthening-Partnerships-Between-Faith-based-.pdf

Pew Forum. The global religious landscape. Pew Forum. 2020 [cited 2020 Nov 3]. Available from: https://www.pewforum.org/2012/12/18/global-religious-landscape-exec/

Olivier J, Tsimpo C, Gemignani R, Shojo M, Coulombe H, Dimmock F, et al. Understanding the roles of faith-based health-care providers in Africa: review of the evidence with a focus on magnitude, reach, cost, and satisfaction. Lancet. 2015;386(10005): 1765-75. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(15)60251-3

Boulenger D, Criel B. The difficult relationship between faith-based health care organisations and the public dector in Sub-Saharan Africa: the case of contracting experiences in Cameroon, Tanzania, Chad and Uganda. Antwerp: ITG Press, 2012. 232 pp. [Studies in Health Services Organisation & Policy].

Duff JF, Buckingham WW. Strengthening of partnerships between the public sector and faith-based groups. Lancet. 2015;386(10005):1786–94. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(15)60250-1

Karam A, Clague J, Marshall K, Olivier J. The view from above: faith and health. Lancet. 2015;386(10005): e22–e24. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(15)61036-4

DeRoeck D. Making health-sector non-governmental organizations more sustainable: a review of NGO and donor efforts. Special Initiatives Report. Bethesda, MD: Partnerships for Health Reform Project. 1998;14.

Dimmock F, Olivier J, Wodon Q. Half a century young: the Christian Health Associations in Africa. In: Olivier J, Wooten Q, editors. The role of faith-inspired health care providers in Sub-Saharan Africa and public-private partnerships. Washington DC: The World Bank. 2012 [cited 2020 Nov 3];71-103. Available from: https://openknowledge.worldbank.org/handle/10986/13572

Koh HK, Coles E. Body and soul: health collaborations with faith-based organizations. Am J Pub Health. 2019;109(3): 369-70. http://doi.org/10.2105/AJPH.2018.304920

Idler E, Levin J, VanderWeele TJ, Khan A. Partnerships between public health agencies and faith communities. Am J Public Health. 2019;109(3):346-7. http://doi.org/10.2105/AJPH.2018.304941

James R. Handle with care: engaging with faith-based organizations in development. Dev Pract. 2011;21(1):09-117. https://doi.org/10.1080/09614524.2011.530231

Norman R, Odotei O. Faith integration and Christian witness in relief and development. Christian Relief, Development, and Advocacy, 2019;1(1): 31-43. https://crdajournal.org/index.php/crda/article/view/207

Roehrich JK, Lewis MA, George G. Are public-private partnerships a healthy option? A systematic literature review. Soc Sci Med. 2014;113:110-9. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.socscimed.2014.03.037

World Health Organization. WHO assembly resolution: strengthening the capacity of governments to constructively engage the private sector in providing essential health-care services. 63rd World Health Assembly, A63/25. Geneva, Switzerland: World Health Organization. 2010 [cited 2020 Nov 3]. Available from: https://apps.who.int/gb/ebwha/pdf_files/WHA63/A63_25-en.pdf

Boulenger D, Barten F, Criel B. Contracting between faith-based health care organizations and the public sector in Africa. Rev Faith Int Aff. 2014;12(1):21-9. https://doi.org/10.1080/15570274.2013.876730

Blevins JB, Jalloh MF, Robinson DA. Faith and global health practice in Ebola and HIV emergencies. Am J Public Health. 2019;109(3):379-84. Available from: https://ajph.aphapublications.org/doi/abs/10.2105/AJPH.2018.304870

Paltzer J. The local church and faith-based organizations. In: Ireland J, editor. For the love of God: principles and practice of compassion in missions. Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock. 2017;230-43.

Fort AL. The quantitative and qualitative contributions of faith-based organizations to healthcare: the Kenya case. Christ J Global Health. 2017;4(3):60-71. https://doi.org/10.15566/cjgh.v4i3.191

Whyle E, Olivier J. Models of engagement between the state and the faith sector in sub-Saharan Africa – a systematic review. Dev Pract. 2017;27(5):684-97. https://doi.org/10.1080/09614524.2017.1327030

Olivier J, Scott V, Molosiwa D, Gilson L. Embedded systems approaches to health policy and systems research. In: Savigny D, Blanchet K, Maidenhead AT, editors. Applied systems thinking for health systems research: a methodological handbook. Open University Press. 2017:14-52.

Thomas DR. A general inductive approach for analyzing qualitative evaluation data. Am J Eval. 2006;27(2): 237-46. https://doi.org/10.1177%2F1098214005283748

Dykstra R, Paltzer J. A review of faith-based holistic health models: mapping similarities and differences. Christ J Global Health. 2020;7(2):121-32. https://doi.org/10.15566/cjgh.v7i2.311

Joint Learning Initiative on Faith & Local Communities. Guide to excellence in evidence for faith groups [Internet]. 2016 [cited 2020 Nov 3]. Available from: https://jliflc.com/guide-excellence-evidence-faith-groups/

How to Cite
Paltzer, J., & Taylor, K. (2021). A Cross-Sectional Study of Faith-based Global Health Organizations to Assess the Feasibility of a Christian Research Collaborative. Christian Journal for Global Health, 8(1), 12-23. https://doi.org/10.15566/cjgh.v8i1.491