Despite the accelerated growth of the field of implementation science, critical lessons have yet to be learned about the best implementation approaches to reduce the persistent disparities in mental and physical health that impact diverse populations across the United States. For example, although Latinxs have been essential to the growth of the United States as a nation, low-income Latinx immigrants remain largely excluded from primary systems of care.

Most recently, the COVID-19 pandemic has clearly demonstrated the profound economic inequities and health disparities that Latinxs experience. Specifically, low-income Latinxs are among the ethnic groups most disproportionately affected by COVID-19 infection rates. Throughout the pandemic, Latinx immigrants have remained an active labor force, despite the high risk for infection associated with their traditional lines of work. Our reflections on these challenges suggest that the implementation science field has fallen short of acknowledging the critical importance that faith-based organizations have in the lives of underserved Latinx immigrants and other populations of color, as well as the role that they can play in the implementation of physical and mental health care initiatives.

Why do faith-based organizations play such a central role? For one, diverse populations facing complex challenges and difficulty accessing basic services frequently identify churches as organizations they trust. For example, immigration clinics and other key support services for undocumented immigrants, such as food banks, are often housed in faith-based organizations, which convey a sense of safe harbor to these populations. Churches also have ministries that focus on different areas of service. This facilitates access to various social networks for the implementation of intervention and prevention initiatives.

Read the full article about faith-based organizations at Stanford Social Innovation Review.