Gospel Music: A Catalyst for Retention, Engagement, and Positive Health Outcomes for African Americans in a Cardiovascular Prevention and Treatment Program was published in Advances Winter 2020 Issue by lead researcher Barry Bittman, MD, who is a neurologist at the Yamaha Music and Wellness Institute in Hilton Head, South Carolina. Based on the study performed at Rodman Street Missionary Baptist Church, there is sound evidence faith-based music positively affects healthy living habits.
According to heart disease and stroke statistics reported in the study, African American adults (48% women and 46% men) have some form of cardiovascular disease. Mortality associated with cardiovascular disease is significantly higher in African Americans compared to adults of other ethnicities, with hypertension being the single most significant risk factor in this population. Participants of the Rodman Street Missionary Baptist Church study included African American members of the church’s congregation experiencing at least 2 cardiovascular-related medical conditions, such as high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol and/or triglycerides, heart attack, angina, stroke, irregular heartbeats, palpitations, shortness of breath, dizziness or fainting, diabetes and/or tobacco use.
Over the course of 1 year, intervention and control groups consisting of Rodman Street Missionary Baptist Church congregation members participated in one structured cardiovascular risk reduction education session every other week. Blood pressure checks coupled with individualized support discussions identifying healthy lifestyle choices, obstacles and challenges were conducted on alternative weeks. These sessions were complemented with weekly vocal gospel music and digital piano, guitar and drum instrumental sessions encouraging group-based creative musical expression. The study indicates each session focused on progressive musical expression to promote group nurturing, support and camaraderie. Research contributors included individuals representing Allegheny Health Network, Apple and the University of Tennessee. Alton Mitchell, Rodman Street Church’s Minister of Music and Arts, supervised the musical instruction and maintained protocols for the study.
Reason to Rejoice
The results of the study were promising. Creative musical expression was a catalyst for improving retention, engagement and positive health outcomes in African American adults participating in the lifestyle skills program for reducing cardiovascular risk factors. Findings of the study suggest faith-based music can be instrumental to cardiovascular health, warranting further consideration of church-centered health education and support of gospel music programs to boost participation and engagement. Combined with daily exercise and a healthy living routine, spiritual music enjoyed in a supportive intellectual setting can nurture both body and mind and enhance an individual’s ability to cope with challenges. Evidence of the effect of ministry programs combined with greater access to health interventions through faith-based music offers positive benefits. Participants in the intervention group noted improvements in overall physical functioning, a factor that may be associated with a sense of well-being related to the addition of the gospel music protocol. View the full scientific research paper to learn more about the study and benefits the program offered to cardiovascular health and positive health outcomes in African Americans.
Active participation in vocal and instrumental gospel music is not only enjoyable but good for the heart and soul. Rodman Street’s Health Ministry is making waves, creating national news and making a difference in our congregation member’s daily lives. Make music, prayer and healthy choices part of your life. Call-in or visit RSMBC Live to watch our virtual Sunday worship services, daily message and prayers with Rev. Dr. Darryl T. Canady.