Spirituality, Self-management and Chronic Disease among Ethnic Groups of Robeson County, North Carolina (2016-2017)


Engagement in self-management skills has been demonstrated to improve health outcomes, yet individual and community-based factors contributing to engagement is less clear. Spirituality, which has been associated with positive effects on mental health including coping, resiliency and fostering social networks, plays an important role in effective improvement of chronic disease outcomes among minority populations.

Project Description

Our primary objective is to understand the relationship between spiritual and self-management practices among adults from Robeson County living with chronic diseases. Robeson County is home to a remarkably diverse population including the Lumbee tribe, which is the largest American Indian tribe in North Carolina and the ninth largest in the United States. Mortality rates are twice the state average for diabetes and cardiovascular disease, and the county has one of the highest national rates of end-stage kidney disease.

Our specific aims are 1) to assess the spiritual and self-management practices of adults living with chronic diseases in Robeson County; and 2) to determine differences in spiritual and religious practices across major ethnic groups living in Robeson County.

Anticipated Outcomes

Each student will formulate testable hypotheses and develop a research plan that will be used as a thesis project. Training will include small-group and one-on-one development of skills necessary for field data collection. Each trainee will take a lead role in the data analysis with a focus on developing results particularly suitable for thesis completion. Master’s students will develop a thesis manuscript suitable for degree requirements and publication in an academic journal.

Related Course

Ethics and Native America: American Indian Life and Literature—listed in history, literature, ethics at the undergrad level and also in the Divinity School; Instructor, David Toole.


Summer 2016 – Spring 2017

This Team in the News

Our View: When It Comes to Taking Care of Patients, Tanzania and North Carolina Have a Lot in Common

John Stanifer: To Tanzania and Back

2017 Teaching Award Winners (Cherry Beasley)

Student Research Team Laying Groundwork for Improved Health in Robeson County, NC

Congratulations to the Student Leadership and Service Award Winners

Additional support for this project is provided by the Silver Family Kenan Institute for Ethics Fund in Support of Bass Connections.


Faculty/Staff Team Members

David Boyd, Duke Global Health Institute
Clarissa Diamantidis, School of Medicine - Medicine - General Internal Medicine*
Uptal Patel, School of Medicine - Nephrology*
John Stanifer, School of Medicine - Nephrology and Duke Clinical Research Institute*
David Toole, Divinity School*

Undergraduate Team Members

Emily Horn, Global Health (AB), Public Policy Studies (AB2)
Christiana Oshotse, Global Health (AB), Biology (BS2)

Community Team Members

Cherry Beasley, UNC Pembroke - Nursing*
Ronny Bell, Wake Forest - Epidemiology

* denotes team leader