Cardiovascular health promotion: A systematic review involving effectiveness of faith-based institutions in facilitating maintenance of normal blood pressure

Abayomi Sanusi, Helen Elsey, Su Golder, Osayuwamen Sanusi, Adejoke Oluyase

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Globally, faith institutions have a range of beneficial social utility, but a lack of understanding remains regarding their role in cardiovascular health promotion, particularly for hypertension. Our objective was assessment of modalities, mechanisms and effectiveness of hypertension health promotion and education delivered through faith institutions. A result-based convergent mixed methods review was conducted with 24 databases including MEDLINE, Embase and grey literature sources searched on 30 March 2021, results independently screened by three researchers, and data extracted based on behaviour change theories. Quality assessment tools were selected by study design, from Cochrane risk of bias, ROBINS I and E, and The Joanna Briggs Institute's Qualitative Assessment and Review Instrument tools. Twenty-four publications contributed data. Faith institution roles include cardiovascular health/disease teaching with direct lifestyle linking, and teaching/ encouragement of personal psychological control. Also included were facilitation of: exercise/physical activity as part of normal lifestyle, nutrition change for cardiovascular health, cardiovascular health measurements, and opportunistic blood pressure checks. These demand relationships of trust with local leadership, contextualisation to local sociocultural realities, volitional participation but prior consent by faith / community leaders. Limited evidence for effectiveness: significant mean SBP reduction of 2.98 mmHg (95%CI -4.39 to -1.57), non-significant mean DBP increase of 0.14 mmHg (95%CI -2.74 to +3.01) three months after interventions; and significant mean SBP reduction of 0.65 mmHg (95%CI -0.91 to -0.39), non-significant mean DBP reduction of 0.53 mmHg (95%CI -1.86 to 0.80) twelve months after interventions. Body weight, waist circumference and multiple outcomes beneficially reduced for cardiovascular health: significant mean weight reduction 0.83kg (95% CI -1.19 to -0.46), and non-significant mean waist circumference reduction 1.48cm (95% CI -3.96 to +1.00). In addressing the global hypertension epidemic the cardiovascular health promotion roles of faith institutions probably hold unrealised potential. Deliberate cultural awareness, intervention contextualisation, immersive involvement of faith leaders and alignment with religious practice characterise their deployment as healthcare assets.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0001496
Number of pages39
JournalPLOS Global Public Health
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 20 Jan 2023

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© 2023 Sanusi et al.

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