Journal of Religion and Health

, Volume 51, Issue 3, pp 734–742 | Cite as

Physical Health Functioning Among United Methodist Clergy

  • Rae Jean Proeschold-Bell
  • Sara LeGrand
Original Paper


United Methodist clergy have been found to have higher than average self-reported rates of obesity, diabetes, asthma, arthritis, and high blood pressure. However, health diagnoses differ from physical health functioning, which indicates how much health problems interfere with activities of daily living. Ninety-five percent (n = 1726) of all actively serving United Methodist clergy in North Carolina completed the SF-12, a measure of physical health functioning that has US norms based on self-administered survey data. Sixty-two percent (n = 1074) of our sample completed the SF-12 by self-administered formats. We used mean difference tests among self-administered clergy surveys to compare the clergy SF-12 Physical Composite Scores to US-normed scores. Clergy reported significantly better physical health composite scores than their gender- and age-matched peers, despite above average disease burden in the same sample. Although health interventions tailored to clergy that address chronic disease are urgently needed, it may be difficult to elicit participation given pastors’ optimistic view of their physical health functioning.


Clergy Health functioning Quality of life SF-12 



The authors thank John James, MA, of the Duke Divinity School for his help with the United Methodist conference directory data, and Keith Meador, MD, ThM, MPH, and Robert Millikan, PhD, MPH, for their insightful comments. We thank Brian Pence, Ph.D. for his statistical consults and Christopher Adams, Ph.D., M.A., for clergy stress insights. We thank David Toole, PhD, MTS, for his leadership as Principal Investigator of the Clergy Health Initiative. This study was funded by a grant from the Rural Church Program Area of The Duke Endowment.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Duke University Global Health Institute, Duke University Center for Health PolicyDuke UniversityDurhamUSA

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