Religious leaders, particularly African–American pastors, are believed to play a key role in addressing health disparities. Despite the role African–American pastors may play in improving health, there is limited research on pastoral influence. The purpose of this study was to examine African–American pastors’ perceptions of their influence in their churches and communities. In-depth interviews were conducted with 30 African–American pastors and analyzed using a grounded theory approach. Three themes emerged: the historical role of the church; influence as contextual, with pastors using comparisons with other pastors to describe their ability to be influential; and a reciprocal relationship existing such that pastors are influenced by factors such as God and their community while these factors also aid them in influencing others. A conceptual model of pastoral influence was created using data from this study and others to highlight factors that influence pastors, potential outcomes and moderators as well as the reciprocal nature of pastoral influence.
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We would like to thank the participants of this study for sharing their time and insight. This work was supported by the National Institutes of Health, National Center on Minority and Health and Health Disparities Grant #1R24MD002769-01.
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no competing interests.
All procedures performed involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional Internal Review Board and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.
Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.
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Harmon, B.E., Strayhorn, S., Webb, B.L. et al. Leading God’s People: Perceptions of Influence Among African–American Pastors. J Relig Health 57, 1509–1523 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10943-018-0563-9
- Health disparities
- African Americans
- Conceptual model