A systematic review and meta-analysis of the effectiveness of hypertension interventions in faith-based organisation settings

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



Journal of global health






BACKGROUND: Hypertension is the global, leading cause of mortality and is the main risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Community-based partnerships can provide cost-saving ways of delivering effective blood pressure (BP) interventions to people in resource-poor settings. Faith-based organisations (FBOs) prove important potential health partners, given their reach and community standing. This potential is especially strong in hard-to-reach, socio-economically marginalised communities. This systematic review explores the state of the evidence of FBO-based interventions on BP management, with a focus on randomised controlled trials (RCTs) and cluster RCTs (C-RCTs). METHODS: Seven academic databases (English = 5, Chinese = 2) and grey literature were searched for C-/RCTs of community-based interventions in FBO settings. Only studies with pre- and post-intervention BP measures were kept for analysis. Random effects models were developed using restricted maximum likelihood estimation (REML) to estimate the population average mean change and 95% confidence interval (CI) of both systolic and diastolic blood pressure (SBP and DBP). The overall heterogeneity was assessed by successively adding studies and recording changes in heterogeneity. Prediction intervals were generated to capture the spread of the pooled effect across study settings. RESULTS: Of the 19 055 titles identified, only 11 studies of fair to good quality were kept for meta-analysis. Non-significant, average mean differences between baseline and follow-up for the intervention and control groups were found for both SBP (0.78 mm of mercury (mmHg) (95% CI = 2.11-0.55)) and DBP (-0.20 mm Hg (95% CI = -1.16 to 0.75)). Subgroup analysis revealed a significant reduction in SBP of -6.23 mm Hg (95% CI = -11.21 to -1.25) for populations with mean baseline SBP of ≥140 mm Hg. CONCLUSIONS: The results support the potential of FBO-based interventions in lowering SBP in clinically hypertensive populations. However, the limited evidence was concentrated primarily in Christian communities in the US More research is needed to understand the implications of such interventions in producing clinically meaningful long-term effects in a variety of settings. Further research can illuminate factors that affect success and potential expansion to sites outside the US as well as non-Christian FBOs. Current evidence is inadequate to evaluate the potential of FBO-based interventions in preventing hypertension in non-hypertensive populations. Intervention effects in non-hypertensive population might be better reflected through intermediate outcomes.