United States Department of Health and Human Services


Outreach Activities and Resources

National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health

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Consumer Health Resource Information Service (CHRIS) Program - Tennessee Statewide Faith-Based Initiative

Project/Program Dates: 2002 - ongoing

The Consumer Health Resource Information Service (CHRIS) Program is a faith-based initiative designed to support the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Healthy People 2010 goals of increasing quality and years of life and eliminating health disparities. Developed by the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE) in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, with funding from the National Library of Medicine, the program addresses these goals primarily by improving health information access to address identified health issues that disproportionately affect minorities, such as HIV/AIDS, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, immunization, cancer, and infant mortality. The program is based on the concept that churches and other faith-based organizations can play an effective role in eliminating or reducing health disparities because of their unique positions in the community.

The CHRIS program began in 2002 as a 15-month pilot demonstration project in Knoxville, Tennessee, in collaboration with the Knox County Health Department, Tennessee Office of Minority Health/Knoxville Minority Health Coalition, the Baptist Health System of East Tennessee Parish Nursing Program, and Chi Eta Phi Nursing Sorority, Inc., and sponsored by the National Library of Medicine. Six inner-city churches in Knoxville were selected as host sites for the pilot. The tremendous success of this pilot project led to the expansion of the program to include, as of March 2006, 21 churches across the state of Tennessee. Within each participating site, a program coordinator--a parish nurse, health educator, or other qualified lay person--organizes and oversees the dissemination of consumer health information from NLM's medical health databases and Internet resources from other federal agencies. Consumer health education topics are delivered to the congregation bi-monthly, and secondary health services, such as health screenings and weekly blood pressure checks, are also provided. Additional activities include a community health fair or health conference.

ORISE has developed a manual, Developing a Consumer Health Resource Information Service Program: A Guide for Faith-based Organizations and Communities (PDF, 564 KB), with an accompanying Tool Kit (PDF, 3,909 KB) for those who would like to initiate a CHRIS program in their church or place of worship. The Tool Kit includes resources for seeking funding and writing proposals, as well as samples of forms and letters for conducting a CHRIS program as a community effort or within a single entity. Faith-based organizations independently looking to start health and wellness programs will find the CHRIS program to be very cost-effective and easily managed.

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