Journal of Community Health

, Volume 45, Issue 1, pp 88–97 | Cite as

Community Health Advisors' Characteristics and Behaviors, Role Performance, and Volunteer Satisfaction in a Church-Based Healthy Eating and Physical Activity Intervention

  • Patricia A. SharpeEmail author
  • Sara Wilcox
  • Jessica Stucker
  • Deborah Kinnard
  • John Bernhart
  • Katherine L. James
Original Paper


Community Health Advisors (CHAs) contribute to health promotion program effectiveness, but their role in faith-based programs is understudied, and little is known about their role performance or satisfaction. In a dissemination and implementation study, 19 CHAs were trained to provide healthy eating (HE) and physical activity (PA) program training to church committees. Of these, 17 CHAs trained 347 attendees from 115 churches. Thirteen CHAs remained for the 12-month period and provided telephone-based technical assistance (TA) to churches. To evaluate their experiences and satisfaction, CHAs completed questionnaires at baseline and 12 months. Staff observers and church committee members evaluated CHAs’ effectiveness as trainers. There were no significant changes in the CHAs’ own body mass index, PA, fruit and vegetable intake, or self-rated health but significant increases in their perceived knowledge of PA (p = 0.01) and HE (p = 0.02). CHAs reported high agreement regarding the quality of their training for the role and moderate volunteer satisfaction on average but thought that the time required of them was somewhat more than expected, though they were interested in volunteering for a future, similar role. Church committee members agreed with CHAs’ effectiveness as trainers and the helpfulness of the TA calls. Staff observers rated CHAs’ as having covered 87.8% of church training content and agreed that, on average, the CHAs were effective trainers. Assessing CHAs’ availability, clear communication about the time requirements, and over-recruitment to offset attrition and decrease the workload may be needed to improve retention and support satisfaction.


Community Health Advisors Faith-based Dissemination and implementation Physical activity Healthy eating 



This work was supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion by Cooperative Agreement Number U48-DP-005000. The findings and conclusions in this report are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or the Department of Health and Human Services. The authors thank the South Carolina Conference of the United Methodist Church for their partnership and contributions to this research. The authors also appreciate the contributions of the faculty, staff, and students of the University of South Carolina Prevention Research Center.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

The University’s Institutional Review Board reviewed the faith-based healthy eating and exercise study and granted exempt status.

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

The Institutional Review Board did not require written informed consent. Completion of questionnaires and interviews for program evaluation was voluntary. Verbal consent was documented, and interviewers provided participants a copy of the consent document.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Prevention Research Center, Arnold School of Public HealthUniversity of South CarolinaColumbiaUSA
  2. 2.Prevention Research Center and Department of Exercise Science, Arnold School of Public HealthUniversity of South CarolinaColumbiaUSA
  3. 3.South Carolina ConferenceThe United Methodist ChurchColumbiaUSA

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