Hypertension is a grave concern for the African American population, and given the connection between high blood pressure and a range of major cardiovascular diseases, the issue warrants closer study. Much research has explored the social factors of hypertension, examining how differing exposure to racial and social stressors, varying neighborhood and environmental factors, and disparate health behaviors may contribute to the disparate rates of hypertension throughout the population. 

One area of particular interest is the capacity for health promotion and engagement in churches within the African American community. While prior studies indicate this to have varying effectiveness based on the individual’s traits and behaviors, evidence suggests that earlier interventions–prior to the onset of disease and the development of other poor health outcomes–might prove more valuable.

In this paper, the authors investigate how denominational affiliation, gender, level of religious engagement, and other factors can help explain differing odds of hypertension among African American Christian young adults.

Key Takeaways:

  • The health benefits of religious engagement are not consistent across African American Christian young adults.
  • African American Pentecostal women between the ages of 24 and 32 had greater odds of having hypertension than their Baptist and Catholic counterparts.
  • Religion simultaneously may be a source of blood pressure risk and resilience for African American young women.


  • Researchers and practitioners should account for the cultural diversity within African American religious communities, including historically Black Christian denominations.
  • Church-based health initiatives should consider how to adapt church support structures to better serve young Pentecostal women and those who heavily rely on religious coping.