Faith & Health Research

The Center of Excellence in Faith & Health is an innovation studio that acts as a gateway for research and exploration of best practices of the convergence of faith and health.

Scholars and expert practitioners at the center will collaborate with Mid-South, national, global and Methodist LeBonheur Healthcare (MLH) leaders to blend the assets and intelligence of local congregations, Methodist Associates, community members, researchers, guest researchers and partnering international organizations.

A range of research activities are undertaken here, including: interdisciplinary research support, research partnering and collaboration, qualitative and quantitative research, community based participatory research, as well as community and congregational mapping and assessments.

Integrative Research on Faith & Health

While the Center of Excellence in Faith & Health works to draw in international voices and theory and maintains a research focus, this research is understood to be fundamentally centered on practice, and rooted in the Memphis context and experience.

The Center of Excellence in Faith & Health plays an integrative role—drawing many different threads into a single stream of coherent, evidence-based understanding. Sometimes conflicting perspectives and methods must be managed, integrated and translated for collaboration to succeed. For example, we aim to blend the lens of those with a “hospital-centric” perspective (clinical, medical and institutional), public health, social science, faith community (theology and religious studies) and community perspectives.

The Center of Excellence in Faith & Health works to interpret and translate these various bodies of knowledge, building bridges, as well as finding and establishing common ground for the better health of the Memphis community.

Community-Focused Research & Practice

As in most hospitals, “research” in the MLH system has, in the past, generally referred to clinical research, but both our assets and challenges demand more. So, the Center Of Excellence in Faith & Health does not only focus on the intersection of faith and health, but also aims to build a platform for true community-focused research and partnership.

The Center of Excellence in Faith & Health is broadly tasked by Methodist LeBonheur Healthcare with improving community access and growing community capacity to improve care and health status, and is therefore designed to be a laboratory for innovative community scale practices.

Research and related activities are broadly aimed at community change rather than specific cases of disease intervention. The integration of community transformation and partnership into clinical and medical models is seen to potentially result in a care delivery system outside the hospital which in turn would impact on community health.

The Center of Excellence in Faith & Health is committed to a transparent research process that is aimed at broader learning than within the MLH system alone; and emphasizes partnership and the open sharing of results. Our participatory analysis processes constantly serve to "close the feedback loop" in quality improvement, both within and outside the hospital.

The Memphis Model

The Memphis Model is a vision of an integrated health system, not just the Methodist LeBonheur Healthcare system, but a truly integrated system of health (or safety net) that integrates all these parts, laying the foundation for system level change in Memphis, Tennessee.

  • Memphis provides a unique ground and opportunity for research on faith and health that could be of huge importance both to the Memphis context, and to a broader national and international audience. It is up to us (as a collaborative community) to nurture this potential.
  • Integration is the key message: of the health system, of partners, of the different research streams, of faith and health. Seeking a blended intelligence remains a central strategy.
  • Finding common ground and language is of critical importance: between different disciplines, between different practitioners, different needs, audiences and perspectives.

Blended Intelligence

The Center Of Excellence in Faith & Health takes an integrative approach to intentionally blending community wisdom, hospital data streams, academic research and the best practice knowledge from local and international partners, for research that is intentional about impacting practice, broadly defined and at several levels.

Through blending intelligences and integrating knowledge, the Center of Excellence in Faith & Health seeks to positively impact on the broader MLH system, in particular engaging with the MLH sense of mission and considering how this is practiced.

Contact Us

Rev. Dr. Stacy Smith
Director of Research and Innovation
Faith and Health Division