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From The CriticsReviewer: David O. Staats, MD (University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center)
Description: Written by a geriatrician and a psychologist with an orientation to community medicine, this book discusses how religious congregations can help in the medical care of their parishioners. This first edition was published in 2000.
Purpose: The purpose is to enable the coming together of religious leaders and the medical community to help parishioners prevent and care for chronic illness in themselves and their loved ones. The book meets these worthy objectives handsomely.
Audience: The audience is mainly religious organizations and community-based health systems looking to build bridges to organizations in their communities. Nurses interested in parish nursing will also find much of value here.
Features: The first of the book's four parts spells out the model of a religious organization-healthcare partnership. The second section describes the illnesses common in older persons and approaches to prevention, education, and care of these persons. The third part gives a very useful listing of resources, including examples of successful partnerships. The fourth and concluding part is composed of appendixes that include a most useful congregational survey form and program evaluation form.
Assessment: The paradigm of healing body-mind-soul is very Cartesian and the examples of successful programs are primarily mainline Protestant organizations. That said, the grass-roots aspect of this book has much to commend it, especially as community medicine as an idea gets traction (think medical home). Parish nursing, brilliant in its scope and execution across the land, might be expanded upon in the next edition. The impact of illness on the daily lives of persons is hard to understand, both by the lay public and the medical community. This is a useful attempt to find the common ground of understanding and translate it into practical actions.