Tailoring health programming to clergy: findings from a study of United Methodist clergy in North Carolina.
Research indicating high rates of chronic disease among some clergy groups highlights the need for health programming for clergy. Like any group united by similar beliefs and norms, clergy may find culturally tailored health programming more accessible and effective. There is an absence of research on what aspects clergy find important for clergy health programs. We conducted 11 focus groups with United Methodist Church pastors and district superintendents. Participants answered open-ended questions about clergy health program desires and ranked program priorities from a list of 13 possible programs. Pastors prioritized health club memberships, retreats, personal trainers, mental health counseling, and spiritual direction. District superintendents prioritized for pastors: physical exams, peer support groups, health coaching, retreats, health club memberships, and mental health counseling. District superintendents prioritized for themselves: physical exams, personal trainers, health coaching, retreats, and nutritionists. Additionally, through qualitative analysis, nine themes emerged concerning health and health programs: (a) clergy defined health holistically, and they expressed a desire for (b) schedule flexibility, (c) accessibility in rural areas, (d) low cost programs, (e) institutional support, (f) education on physical health, and (g) the opportunity to work on their health in connection with others. They also expressed concern about (h) mental health stigma and spoke about (i) the tension between prioritizing healthy behaviors and fulfilling vocational responsibilities. The design of future clergy health programming should consider these themes and the priorities clergy identified for health programming.
Proeschold-Bell, RJ; LeGrand, S; Wallace, A; James, J; Moore, HE; Swift, R; Toole, D
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