The development of the Religious Health Interventions in Behavioural Science (RHIBS) Taxonomy: a scientific classification of religious practices in health

Riya Patel, Jonathan Jong, Everett L Worthington, Deborah Lycett

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    The development and delivery of religiously integrated health interventions is increasing, however lack of nomenclature to specify the religious components presents barriers to replication, implementation, and evidence synthesis. We describe the development of the “Religious Health Interventions in Behavioural Sciences (RHIBS)” Taxonomy, the first scientific classification of religious intervention components to be used globally by chaplains, healthcare providers, and researchers interested in the scientific study of religion, spirituality, and health. We developed a taxonomy of empirically used religious intervention components in health, sought international cross-disciplinary consensus for definitions and tested its usability. Study 1: systematic review of intervention studies to identify religious components tested within healthcare; development of taxonomy nomenclature, definitions, and categories. Study 2: Delphi exercise with 19 international, cross-disciplinary experts from a variety of religions. Study 3: “think aloud” study and usability testing with 10 end-users. Study 1: 12,337 papers identified from search, 167 intervention studies included, plus an additional 74 from hand-searching 14 systematic reviews. A taxonomy of 191 religious components, grouped into 27 categories resulted. Study 2: two Delphi rounds resulted in international and cross-disciplinary consensus of a revised taxonomy of 81 religious components grouped into 23 categories. Study 3: usability testing by participants (range of disciplines, geography, and religions) led to a final taxonomy comprising 82 religious components grouped into 22 categories and supported by online training. The “RHIBS Taxonomy,” is the first multidisciplinary, global shared language within religion, spirituality, and health, ushering in a new era for religious interventions to be precisely defined, developed, and tested; shaping the evidence-base for future healthcare research/practice.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)987-1003
    Number of pages17
    JournalTranslational Behavioral Medicine
    Issue number10
    Early online date25 Aug 2022
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2022

    Bibliographical note

    This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial License (, which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


    • Religious components
    • Interventions
    • Synthesis
    • Taxonomy


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