A Study of Rural Church Health Promotion Environments: Leaders’ and Members’ Perspectives
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This study examined the beliefs of church leaders about health and associations between these beliefs and the church health promotion environment (CHPE). Perceptions of the CHPE by leaders and members of the same churches were also compared. Interviews were conducted with pastors (n = 40) and members (n = 96) of rural churches. They were Baptist (60%), and 57.5% were predominantly White, while 42.5% were Black. Leaders’ beliefs regarding talking about health topics in sermons were associated with the presence of health messages in the church. There was also a significant association between leaders’ beliefs about members’ receptivity to health messages and the presence of messages in the church. Leaders’ and members’ perceptions of the CHPE were discordant. While some leaders’ beliefs may be related to the CHPE, other factors may explain why programs and policies exist in some churches and not others.
KeywordsChurch-based health promotion Church leaders Church members Church environment
The authors thank members of the Emory Prevention Research Center’s Community Advisory Board for their ongoing guidance of this project. We also thank JK Barnette and the local interviewers (Carl Gluckert and Tina Phipps), the Southwest Georgia Cancer Coalition and study participants for their contributions to this research. Funding for this research was made possible by cooperative agreement # U48 DP 000043 from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
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