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South Carolina Arthritis Prevention and Control Program

Faith-based Partnerships Offer Great Potential For Expansion Of Arthritis Programs In South Carolina

Issue

Arthritis is a serious public health issue in South Carolina affecting approximately one-third of the adult population and limiting activity for 39% of those who have some form of the disease. 

With the substantial increase in the funding for arthritis, South Carolina has more resources to expand evidence-based prevention programs through partnerships with faith-based organizations.

Faith communities play a crucial role in the delivery of health programs in SC.  This is especially true in rural areas of the state where church-based activities are the center of religious and social life and traditional health programs are not widely available.  Because SC is primarily a rural state and the prevalence of arthritis is higher in rural areas, faith-based partnerships offer great potential for reaching people in underserved areas.  Faith-based programs are also an excellent way to reach African-Americans who make up 30% of the state’s population and are disproportionately affected by the disabling effects of arthritis.

Intervention

Nurses and lay health ministers from the South Carolina Congregational Nursing Network, a statewide network of 12 health ministries, are being trained to deliver evidence-based arthritis programs.  Qualified nurses will also be trained as Master Trainers to expand and sustain the programs in churches throughout the state. 

The Seventh District of the African-American Methodist Episcopal Church, consisting of more than 600 churches, has agreed to offer self-help and exercise programs for people with arthritis statewide as sustainable health ministries.

The Progressive Church of Our Lord Jesus is implementing the Arthritis Foundation Self-Help Program in 7 of its 13 churches statewide.  Their goal is to adopt the program as a health ministry service for church members and the broader community. 

The South Atlantic Conference of the African-American Methodist Episcopal Zion Church in South Carolina is delivering the Stanford University Chronic Disease Self-Management Program (Living Well) in the Palmetto Conference and plans to expand the program statewide. 

Impact

  • Partnerships developed between state Arthritis Program and faith-based organizations
  • Culturally appropriate programs offered in communities throughout the state
  • Programs more accessible to African Americans who are disproportionately affected by the disabling affects of arthritis
  • Increased accessibility of programs in rural, underserved areas of the state