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J Relig Health. 2015 Apr;54(2):373-86. doi: 10.1007/s10943-013-9752-8.

Religious leaders' opinions and guidance towards oral health maintenance and promotion: a qualitative study.

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  • 1Department of Community Dentistry, Hebrew University-Hadassah School of Dental Medicine, P.O.B. 12272, 91120, Jerusalem, Israel,


Religions emphasize the supreme value of life. However, potential or concrete conflicts of perception between dictates of faith and science often present an inescapable dilemma. The aim of this qualitative research was to examine the views of spiritual and religious leaders towards general and oral health issues. A total of 11 eminent Jewish spiritual and religious community leaders were purposively chosen. They were interviewed using a semi-structured questionnaire. The verbatim transcriptions of the interviews were analysed in the spirit of grounded theory, using qualitative data analysis software. Open, axial, and thematic coding served to build categories and themes. Analysis of participants' perspectives reflected that they, based upon Jewish theology, attributed high importance to primary prevention at both personal and community levels. Religious and orthodox people were depicted as being motivated towards maintaining oral health behaviours due to a sense of obligation to follow religious edicts, strong social support, and elevated perceived spiritual levels. We offer a theoretical model that can explain the potential high motivation among these communities towards implementing positive general and oral health behaviours. Religiosity may be regarded as an example of a psycho-social health determinant, encompassing spiritual belief ("psycho") and social support ("social") components.

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