What?

This is a research project to develop an empirically-derived taxonomy of religious practices within the context of healthcare, for use by researchers, healthcare professionals, and pastoral workers; ultimately for the  benefit of everyone.

Why?

Evidence is growing which shows that engagement with religion and spirituality can affect  health; most of it shows positive associations but negative associations have also been found. Currently religious health interventions are poorly defined and evaluated, so it is hard to prove their worth. While we are not attempting to explain 'acts of God' we are defining religious human practices in their most basic parts to identify those used in healthcare and the meaning behind them in this context. This will help us to better understand their impact on health and wellbeing. An agreed-upon and reliable taxonomy of practices is needed if religious health interventions are going to adequately respond to the call for precise descriptions of intervention components in complex interventions within more established fields of behavioural medicine. 

How?

We will apply established methods from the development of taxonomies for behaviour change techniques to answer 3 key questions through 3 distinct project phases. Firstly we will review the healthcare literature and draft a taxonomy of religious practices used in health interventions, secondly we will conduct a Delphi exercise to achieve international consensus, and thirdly we will test the taxonomy’s usability and reliability amongst stakeholders. 

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