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Conference Will Discuss the Role of Faith in Healing and Thriving

2022 AHSRA event will take place at AdventHealth University.

Pat Spangler, AdventHealth University, and Adventist Review
Conference Will Discuss the Role of Faith in Healing and Thriving
[Photo: Paul Martin]

The 2022 Annual Conference of the Adventist Human-Subject Researchers Association (AHSRA) will be hosted at AdventHealth University in Orlando, Florida, United States, May 18-21. The conference will be hybrid, with both in-person and virtual attendance options.

The overall theme for the 2022 AHSRA Conference is “Faith and Wholeness — The Role of Faith in Healing and Thriving.” This theme is broad and intended to cover a wide variety of human-subject research in health behaviors, community-based research, educational research, and missiology. Submission of abstracts on other topics outside of this theme are encouraged as well.

Duane McBride, current AHSRA president; executive director, Institute for Prevention of Addictions; director, Center for Drug Policy Research; and senior research professor of sociology at Andrews University, encourages university faculty and graduate students to submit abstracts until April 8. Some 5,000 downloads of AHSRA presentations and publications were on Digital Commons last year. 

“Good scholarship is a form of evangelism,” McBride said. “It shows the quality of Adventist research and the strength of many of our beliefs about the effect of religion on health and thriving. Many of our studies have been repeated in other faith communities, thereby broadening the impact of the research.”

AHSRA is a scientific research organization so will be following best practices at the conference, organizers said. These include proof of full COVID vaccination status or a recent COVID antibody test, and masks at all meetings.

Organizers also shared that there will be three plenary sessions with internationally known keynote speakers, as well as multiple paper and poster presentations by researchers from around the world. 

Tyler VanderWeele will present the first plenary session titled “Religious Community and Human Flourishing.” VanderWeele is the John L. Loeb and Frances Lehman Loeb Professor of Epidemiology in the Departments of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, and director of the Human Flourishing Program and co-director of the Initiative on Health, Religion, and Spirituality at Harvard University. He is a leading figure in research that examines the role of religion and spirituality in human thriving. His findings indicate that spirituality is a significant contributor to better mental and physical health. 

Daniel Ganu, professor of public health at Adventist University of Africa, will be the presenter of the keynote address, “Adventist Wholistic Health: The African Perspective.” Ganu is the principal investigator for Adventist Health Study in Africa, chair of AHSRA-Africa, and editor-in-chief of the Pan-African Journal for Health and Environmental Science.

For the third keynote address David Williams will discuss “How Racism Shapes Our Health,” and will also participate in an evening presentation titled “The Role of Faith Communities and Equity.” Williams is the Florence Sprague Norman and Laura Smart Norman Professor of Public Health and chair of the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. He is also a professor of African and African American Studies and Sociology at Harvard University.Williams has provided some of the strongest research on the role of religion and health and the importance of addressing equity to ensure health. His work shows that religious involvement contributes to a longer and healthier life but inequities in society result in poorer mental and physical health. 

“The Role of Faith Communities and Wholeness” will be the focus of worship on Sabbath, followed by an afternoon tour of Leu Gardens.

The Adventist Human-Subject Researchers Association was formally organized in the fall of 2013 with the sponsorship of the General Conference Office of Archives, Statistics and Research. The association was developed during two conferences: the first at Andrews University in the spring of 2012 and the second at the General Conference in the fall of 2013.

Pat Spangler, AdventHealth University, and Adventist Review