Parish nursing

Parish nurses are registered nurses positioned within a parish or similar faith community, or within a health care system serving as a liaison to congregations. Parish nurses focus largely on health promotion and injury prevention (, ), but also often function as counselors, referrers, and advocates (). In congregations where parish nurses volunteer or are employed, their health ministry is often considered a vital part of the mission of the church. Parish nursing is sometimes referred to as faith community nursing or congregational nursing, and is most common in Christian denominations.

Expected Beneficial Outcomes (Rated)

  • Increased healthy behaviors

  • Improved health outcomes

Evidence of Effectiveness

Parish nursing is a suggested strategy to improve health behaviors and health outcomes (, , ), especially among minority (Mendelson 2008, ) and low income populations (). However, additional evidence is needed to confirm effects.

Available evidence suggests that, overall, health programs in faith-based organizations can be effective in primary prevention, health maintenance, cardiovascular health, and cancer-related efforts (DeHaven 2004). Simple interventions provided through parish nurses, such as an extra one hour education session, may result in improved health promoting behaviors (Mendelson 2008). However, referrals to parish nurses are less effective than setting up appointments with physicians for controlling blood pressure (Baig 2010).

Parish nursing may enable limited domain partnerships, allowing churches and medical centers to temporarily work together on common goals (). 

Impact on Disparities

Likely to decrease disparities

Implementation Resources

AHRQ HCIE-Soper - Soper S. Faith community nurses work with local, trusted organizations to enhance access to primary and preventive care for low-income individuals in Los Angeles. Rockville: AHRQ Health Care Innovations Exchange.

AHRQ-Stewart 2014 - Stewart EE, Taylor-Post N, Nichols L, Staton EW, Schleuning A. Linking primary care patients to local resources for better management of obesity. Rockville: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ); 2014.

Citations - Evidence

* Journal subscription may be required for access.

Dyess 2010* - Dyess S, Chase SK, Newlin K. State of research for Faith Community Nursing 2009. Journal of Religion and Health. 2010;49(2):188-99.

McGinnis 2008* - McGinnis SL, Zoske FM. The emerging role of faith community nurses in prevention and management of chronic disease. Policy, Politics & Nursing Practice. 2008;9(3):173-80.

Buijs 2001* - Buijs R, Olson J. Parish nurses influencing determinants of health. Journal of Community Health Nursing. 2001;18(1):13-23.

Mendelson 2008 - Mendelson SG, McNeese-Smith D, Koniak-Griffin D, Nyamathi A, Lu MC. A community-based parish nurse intervention program for Mexican American women with gestational diabetes. Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic & Neonatal Nursing. 2008;37(4):415-25.

Hughes 2001* - Hughes CB, Trofino J, O’Brien BL, Mack J, Marrinan M. Primary care parish nursing: Outcomes and implications. Nursing Administration Quarterly. 2001;26(1):45-59.

DeHaven 2004 - DeHaven MJ, Hunter IB, Wilder L, Walton JW, Berry J. Health programs in faith-based organizations: Are they effective? American Journal of Public Health. 2004;94(6):1030-6.

Baig 2010 - Baig AA, Mangione CM, Sorrell-Thompson AL, Miranda JM. A randomized community-based intervention trial comparing faith community nurse referrals to telephone-assisted physician appointments for health fair participants with elevated blood pressure. Journal of General Internal Medicine. 2010;25(7):701-9.

Brudenell 2003* - Brudenell I. Parish nursing: Nurturing body, mind, spirit, and community. Public Health Nursing. 2003;20(2):85-94.

Monay 2010* - Monay V, Mangione CM, Sorrell-Thompson A, Baig AA. Services delivered by faith-community nurses to individuals with elevated blood pressure. Public Health Nursing. 2010;27(6):537-543.

Date Last Updated

Jun 11, 2015