Implications for Public Health Systems and Clinical Practitioners: Strengths of Congregations, Religious Health Assets and Leading Causes of Life

  • Teresa F. Cutts
  • Gary R. Gunderson
Part of the Religion, Spirituality and Health: A Social Scientific Approach book series (RELSPHE, volume 2)


Historically and in current times, religious, public health and health system partnerships have been essential in improving health at community scale, ranging from ending infectious disease epidemics to improving the health of the vulnerable dealing with chronic conditions. This chapter sketches that historical background, situating recent efforts against the backdrop of more than a century of public health practice and describes the roles of public health professionals and of empirical evidence in fostering community partnerships between religious organizations and health systems. We also offer seven key principles for religion/health partnerships distilled from the last three decades of practice and theory crafted and conducted by Gary Gunderson, Teresa Cutts and others, built upon the specific frameworks of strengths of congregations, religious health assets and Leading Causes of Life and, in some cases, backed by empirical evidence. These points are illustrated by two case studies of religion/health partnerships in Memphis and North Carolina that exemplify some of those principles. We summarize and draw conclusions, with a particular emphasis on offering useful information for public health practitioners.


Community engagement Faith communities Stakeholder Health Trust Spirituality Public health Religion Assets 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Teresa F. Cutts
    • 1
  • Gary R. Gunderson
    • 2
  1. 1.Division of Public Health Science, Department of Social Sciences and Health Policy, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine, and Maya Angelou Center for Health EquityWake Forest School of MedicineWinston-SalemUSA
  2. 2.Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, Wake Forest School of Medicine and Divinity SchoolWinston-SalemUSA

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