Journal of Religion and Health

, Volume 54, Issue 6, pp 2235–2248 | Cite as

“We Hide Under the Scriptures”: Conceptualization of Health Among United Methodist Church Clergy in Kenya

  • Nikki Georggi Walther
  • Rae Jean Proeschold-Bell
  • Sara Benjamin-Neelon
  • Sherine Adipo
  • Eunice Kamaara
Original Paper


As community leaders, clergy are well-positioned to impact the health of their congregants. Clergy’s conceptualizations of health influence their own self-care and how they minister to others. Interviews and focus group discussions on health conceptualizations and health-seeking behaviors were conducted with 49 United Methodist Church clergy in Western Kenya. Data were analyzed using interpretative phenomenological methods. Participants defined health holistically using an environmental health model. Some participants reported not seeking health care so their congregants would believe that their faith kept them healthy. Participants who believed that health comes directly from God reported seeking health care less often. Participants also reported combining traditional indigenous medicine with Western medicine. This study has implications for health promotion among Kenyan clergy and offers the first study of health conceptualization among clergy in Africa.


Clergy Kenya Health beliefs Health-seeking behaviors Religion 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nikki Georggi Walther
    • 1
  • Rae Jean Proeschold-Bell
    • 2
  • Sara Benjamin-Neelon
    • 1
    • 2
  • Sherine Adipo
    • 3
  • Eunice Kamaara
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of Community and Family Medicine, Duke University Medical CenterDuke UniversityDurhamUSA
  2. 2.Duke Global Health InstituteDuke UniversityDurhamUSA
  3. 3.School of Public HealthMoi UniversityEldoretKenya
  4. 4.Department of Philosophy, Religion, and TheologyMoi UniversityEldoretKenya

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