Controlling diabetes with help from a higher power
|Dr. Heather Kitzman-Ulrich and Leilani Dodgen|
Religious faith promotes spiritual health, but can it also influence physical well-being?
That’s a question UNT Health Science Center researchers seek to answer by teaming with pastors at churches in southern Dallas County to test the effectiveness of obesity and diabetes prevention curriculums that include faith-based components.
The five-year project focuses on African-American women because statistics show they are more likely to be overweight and have diabetes than Caucasian women. They also are much more likely to call their church a major influence in their lives, studies show.
"We hypothesized that if we included some faith-based concepts and involved their pastor, that this might improve their motivation and lead to better outcomes," said Heather Kitzman-Ulrich, PhD, Assistant Professor of Behavioral and Community Health and Principal Investigator.
An advisory group of pastors and their wives helped write a 16-week curriculum that integrated faith-based elements with the Diabetes Prevention Program. The curriculum includes pastor-delivered sermons that integrate objectives of each week’s program curriculum, scripture included in participant and facilitator materials, prayer, and take-home faith activities.
To measure success, researchers will track participants’ weight, waistline, blood lipids, estrogen and cortisol levels, and diet, among other things, Project Manager Leilani Dodgen said. Those measurements will then be compared to those of participants in identical diabetes prevention courses that do not include faith-based elements.
Twelve churches will participate in the project, which was funded by a $1 million grant from the National Institute of Health and conducted by the Texas Center for Health Disparities within UNTHSC. Rev. George King of Cities of Refuge-Dallas, who helped write the curriculum, said that he believes the involvement of churches will help participants stay motivated.
"Our goal is not to make this feel like a program they are going through, but a lifestyle change they are making with the support of their pastors and fellow church members," he said.
By Alex Branch A big year for the Department of Physical Therapy culminated with the program earning national accreditation through 2028. The Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education has deemed the program to be in compliance with the intent of all standards and req...Read more
Jan 17, 2019
By Alex Branch Student government presidents and vice presidents from every osteopathic medical school in the United States will convene at UNT Health Science Center for their annual national meeting. It’s the first time in 15 years that UNTHSC’s Texas College of Osteopathic Medi...Read more
Jan 15, 2019
By Alex Branch Robert Richard, DO, told UNT Health Science Center medical student Sarah Hmaidan exactly what she should expect from him as her preceptor. “He told me if he wasn’t inspiring me to be the best doctor I could be or challenging me to see the whole patient, then he was...Read more
Jan 10, 2019
By Alex Branch A generous estate gift from a longtime community volunteer whose family was impacted by dementia will establish a $3 million endowed chair to support groundbreaking research into Alzheimer’s disease and other translational research projects at UNT Health Science Center. Si...Read more
Jan 8, 2019