Physical health functioning among United Methodist clergy

J Relig Health. 2012 Sep;51(3):734-42. doi: 10.1007/s10943-010-9372-5.


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.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Chronic Disease / epidemiology
  • Clergy / psychology*
  • Female
  • Health Status*
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • North Carolina / epidemiology
  • Protestantism / psychology*
  • Quality of Life*
  • United States / epidemiology