Research Projects and Partners

A number of innovation research projects are underway through the Center of Excellence in Faith & Health. Below you'll find some of the faith-based projects we are proud to sponsor.

Improving the Patient Journey

We want every patient to show up at the right door (not always at the Emergency Room), at the right time (early, not late in the disease condition), ready to be treated (mainly meaning, not filled with fear) and not alone. A spectrum of research is targeted at improving the patient journey, including quality of care assessments and community engagement assessments. Pilot research seeks to assess the Congregational Health Network, measuring indicators such as length of stay, readmissions, as well as greater patient and physician satisfaction.

Community Religious Health Asset Mapping

A research project that seeks to identify, assess and map religious health assets in Memphis to mobilize current capacities, align resources, fill critical gaps and target interventions. Dr. Gary Gunderson was the principal investigator of a similar project in Africa, and mapping in Memphis continues to be linked to similar projects in Africa and elsewhere in the US. This work allows us to: 

  • understand and assess the impact of religious health assets in fostering health
  • fuel research that will promote a greater and more complete understanding of the role of religion and religious institutions in health promotion and delivery
  • strengthen leadership and organizational capacity to advance health and wellness

For more see

Best Practices for Community Engagement

Several research projects are aimed at strengthening community networks, including congregational health networks, the health-generating activities of community members, program and congregational activity evaluation, and assessment of education and training models and materials.

Equity Research Group

Memphis is an epicenter of some of the most insidious and intractable health disparities in the United States. Our own hospital data confirms that even when offered uniform evidence-based care to the best of our ability, people of different race and ethnic backgrounds have quite different outcomes. We see this in and near the emergency room with heart attack and heart disease conditions. As a result, the Center of Excellence in Faith & Health takes the lead for the Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare system to coordinate research and analysis of data from the system and the community to inform our work of moving away from disparities, toward equity. We know this work is social innovation that demands long term interdisciplinary teams working closely with our community partners. We hope to expand this work over the coming months and years with increasing integrated streams of data with participatory, qualitative analysis while testing system improvement initiatives along the way. 

The World Council of Churches Mental Health and Faith Communities Reference Group

The Center of Excellence in Faith & Health is part of a WCC Mental Health Reference Group which is an interdisciplinary team of experts from different regions of the world, with experience in different facts of mental health, in the context of faith communities. This reference group aims to play a catalytic role in enhancing the level of awareness of mental health among faith communities; assist in the enhancement of awareness of the role of spirituality in the scientific community, which deals with the service provision of mental health care; assist in the collection of best practices, tools and responses that already exist among religious communities and civil society and to disseminate it broadly. For more see

Other research streamed through the Center of Excellence in Faith & Health includes:

  • Spiritual and Religious Assets Research to examine spirituality as a mediating factor in preventing male inter and intrapersonal violence (with ARHAP, the University of South Africa Institute for Social and Health Sciences and the Medical Research Council)
  • H1N1 and Disaster Response Mapping (with Health and Human Services and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Interfaith Health Program or IHP-Emory, Rollins School of Public Health)
  • ARHAP Religious Health Asset Mapping and Assessment (with ARHAP)
  • Faith-based Health Systems Research (with ARHAP)
  • Faith-based Healthcare Leadership and Best Practices Engagement (with Diakonhjemmet Hospital, Christian Medical College, Vellore, India, Difäm in Tubingen, Germany, Loma Linda University, et al)

Contact Us

Dr. Teresa Cutts, Director of Research and Innovative Practice, Center of Excellence in Faith and Health - 901.516.0593, Email: