Original Paper

Journal of Religion and Health

, Volume 50, Issue 3, pp 700-720

First online:

A Theoretical Model of the Holistic Health of United Methodist Clergy

  • Rae Jean Proeschold-BellAffiliated withDuke University Center for Health PolicyDuke Health Inequalities Program, Research and Evaluation Sector, Duke University Center for Health Policy Email author 
  • , Sara LeGrandAffiliated withDuke University Center for Health Policy
  • , John JamesAffiliated withDuke University Divinity School
  • , Amanda WallaceAffiliated withDuke University Divinity School
  • , Christopher AdamsAffiliated withOffice of the Campus Pastors Division of Student Life and Graduate Department of Psychology, Azusa Pacific University
  • , David TooleAffiliated withDuke University Divinity School

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Culturally competent health interventions require an understanding of the population’s beliefs and the pressures they experience. Research to date on the health-related beliefs and experiences of clergy lacks a comprehensive data-driven model of clergy health. Eleven focus groups with 59 United Methodist Church (UMC) pastors and 29 UMC District Superintendents were conducted in 2008. Participants discussed their conceptualization of health and barriers to, and facilitators of, health promotion. Audiotape transcriptions were coded by two people each and analyzed using grounded theory methodology. A model of health for UMC clergy is proposed that categorizes 42 moderators of health into each of five levels drawn from the Socioecological Framework: Intrapersonal, Interpersonal, Congregational, United Methodist Institutional, and Civic Community. Clergy health is mediated by stress and self-care and coping practices. Implications for future research and clergy health interventions are discussed.


Clergy Health United Methodist Theory Socioecological framework