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Aim: To produce an empirically-derived taxonomy of religious practices in the context of healthcare, for use by researchers, healthcare professionals, and pastoral workers; for the benefit of the public.
Need: Currently religious health interventions are poorly defined and evaluated, so causality cannot be inferred and such programmes are dismissed by healthcare providers. A particular problem is the overlap of religious and non-religious spiritual practices meaning the effects of a psychological exercise/therapy cannot be differentiated from an act of religious faith or belief in a higher power.
Solution: A standardised classification that defines and isolates potential active ingredients within religious health interventions will create building blocks for replicable interventions that can be robustly evaluated and compared.
Methods: We will apply the established methods from the development of the behaviour change techniques taxonomy which revolutionised the evidence base of behavioural interventions to answer “Can religious practices within health interventions be scientifically classified? Can this taxonomy have international, cross-disciplinary consensus? Can this taxonomy be reliably & easily used?” Firstly we will draft a taxonomy of religious practices from a review of healthcare literature and thematic synthesis of religious components used. Secondly, we will run a Delphi exercise to achieve international consensus and thirdly we will test the taxonomy’s usability and inter-rater reliability amongst key stakeholders.
Deliverables: A tested taxonomy of religious health interventions that has international consensus, alongside instruction materials and a project website. We will submit at least 3 high profile conference abstracts and journal manuscripts.
Impact: Use of a widely accepted taxonomy to identify and develop the most helpful religious practices to health will inform healthcare practice, community support and improve public well-being.