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​​What is ALIVE!?
The ALIVE! Research Partnership is a collaboration between academic researchers from Rush University Medical Center(RUMC) and church leaders from five African American churches. The focus of their work together is to help the five congregations and their communities at large build healthier lifestyle behaviors in order to reduce the health disparities found in the African American community compared to other groups.​​
 
How did the ALIVE! Research Partnership Begin?
One innovation of this research project is the reciprocal, trust-based relationship that has developed between the pastors of the five congregations and the RUMC researchers. This relationship has been ongoing for the past 3 years. This process began with a clergy forum, where RUMC faculty presented information about clergy self-care.

Following the forum, Rev. Alan Ragland of Third Baptist Church of Chicago approached the research presenters from the Rush Center for Urban Health Equity because he knew that pastors needed support for improved health behavior lifestyles before “teaching and preaching” to their congregations. He and a group of pastors met with the RUMC faculty for a six month journey in self-care.

Interestingly, the clergy and researchers found that it was the use of scripture during their meetings that deepened the mindfulness of their responsibility for their own behaviors around diet, exercise, and living, and as a result helped to form the ALIVE! Research Partnership.
 

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Why is the ALIVE! Research Project Important?
The most common causes of premature death and disability in the United States are poor diet and a lack of exercise Research has shown that as weight increases to reach the levels referred to as “overweight” and “obese,” individuals increase their risk for:
  • Coronary Heart Disease
  • Type 2 Diabetes
  • Breast Cancer and Colon Cancer
  • African Americans suffer from the highest rates of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and some cancers. Consequently African Americans die earlier from these causes than other Americans.

    Why a Church-Based Research Project?
    The Church and its congregants need to be partners in improving health behaviors:
  • The church plays a central role in the African-American community, and in the lives of the congregants.
  • African American churches are traditionally focused on wholeness, which includes physical and spiritual well-being.
  • Healing is a focus of church life, and the church is considered a place of refuge.
  • African Americans understand the link between feeding yourself well and taking care of “God’s temple.”
  • Churches are family-oriented, health messages are often shared with extended family members.
  • Churches can spread health messages to their community through elder, youth, and child care programs.