African Americans; opioid use; chronic pain; church attendance; health disparities; Black Churches


Health Psychology | Multicultural Psychology | Public Health Education and Promotion


African Americans (AAs) in the Midwest are more likely to die from an opioid overdose compared to Whites, despite lower rates of use. Little is known about factors related to opioid use among AAs residing in the Midwest, particularly church-affiliated AAs. AAs have the highest rate of church attendance among all racial/ethnic groups, and the Black Church may be an appropriate setting for prevention efforts. The present study sought to better understand factors related to opioid use among Midwestern church-affiliated AAs to inform future faith-based interventions. This study examined predictors of opioid use (ever) using survey data from Taking It to the Pews (TIPS), a faith-based HIV/STD/hepatitis C virus (HCV) education and testing intervention conducted in 4 AA churches (N = 250) in the Kansas City metropolitan area. Participants were predominantly female (71%) and church members (74%), with an average age of 47. Fifty-three percent of participants reported prescription opioid use at some point in their lifetime. Logistic regression analyses indicated that those who reported opioid use in their lifetime attended church more frequently, less likely to be on Medicaid, had a history of severe pain, a history of illicit drug use, and a history of marijuana use. AA churches are in a uniquely positioned to reach church congregants and community members utilizing church outreach services. AA churches may benefit from offering lifestyle interventions, such as exercise classes and stress management programs, for pain management and to prevent misuse of prescription opioids.