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In 2007, The Duke Endowment funded Duke Divinity School to assess and improve the health of United Methodist clergy in North Carolina.  Since then, the Clergy Health Initiative has:

With these data, we are able to discern a fuller picture by combining the experiences of clergy in their own words with the survey responses of large numbers of clergy. We can also compare the responses of clergy to those of the general population or people in other occupations.


Read more about our findings at Faith & Leadership and Duke Today:


Learn more about the need for this research and early interventions on The Duke Endowment website.

Published Research

Abstracts and citations for the papers listed below are available by clicking on the title. Journal subscriptions may be required to access the full paper on the journal's website; however, we offer our own PDF versions where permitted by the publisher.  For more information, please contact our research director, Rae Jean Proeschold-Bell, Ph.D.

Health Interventions for Clergy

Health Programming for Clergy: An Overview of Protestant Programs
Pastoral Psychology (2011)    PDF version

Tailoring Health Programming to Clergy: Findings from a Study of United Methodist Clergy in North Carolina
Journal of Prevention & Intervention in the Community (2012)    PDF version

Use of a Randomized Multiple Baseline Design: Rationale and Design of the Spirited Life Holistic Health Intervention Study
Contemporary Clinical Trials (2013)    PDF version

A Two-Year Holistic Health and Stress Intervention: Results of a Randomized Controlled Trial in Clergy
American Journal of Preventive Medicine (2017)     PDF version

Holistic Health

“We Hide Under the Scriptures”: Conceptualization of Health Among United Methodist Church Clergy in Kenya
Journal of Religion and Health (2014)      PDF version

A Theoretical Model of the Holistic Health of United Methodist Pastors
Journal of Religion and Health (2009)     PDF version

Multilevel health promotion considerations for diverse United Methodist Church Pastors
Journal of Community Psychology (2013)     PDF version

Relationships between Sabbath observance and mental, physical, and spiritual health in clergy
Pastoral Psychology (2019)     PDF version

Physical Health

An Overview of the History and Current Status of Clergy Health
Journal of Prevention & Intervention in the Community (2012)    PDF version

High Rates of Obesity and Chronic Disease Among United Methodist Clergy
Obesity (Journal of the Obesity Society) (2010)     PDF version

Physical Health Functioning Among United Methodist Clergy
Journal of Religion and Health (2010)     PDF version

Explaining Rural/Non-rural Disparities in Physical Health-related Quality of Life:  A Study of United Methodist Clergy in North Carolina
Quality of Life Research (2010)    PDF version

Prospective associations between depressive symptoms and the metabolic syndrome: The Spirited Life study of United Methodist pastors
Annals of Behavioral Medicine (2017)    PDF version

Using a holistic health approach to achieve long-term weight maintenance: Results from the Spirited Life intervention
Translational Behavioral Medicine (2018)    PDF version

Disentangling race and socioeconomic status in health disparities research: An examination of black and white clergy
Journal of Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities (2018)    PDF version

Mental Health

The Glory of God is a Human Being Fully Alive: Predictors of Positive Versus Negative Mental Health Among Clergy
Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion (2016)     PDF version

Using Effort-Reward Imbalance Theory to Understand High Rates of Depression and Anxiety Among Clergy
Journal of Primary Prevention (2013)     PDF version

Overcoming the Challenges of Pastoral Work? Peer Support Groups and Psychological Distress among United Methodist Church Clergy
Sociology of Religion: A Quarterly Review (2012)        PDF version

Prospective associations between depressive symptoms and the metabolic syndrome: The Spirited Life study of United Methodist pastors
Annals of Behavioral Medicine (2017)    PDF version

Disentangling race and socioeconomic status in health disparities research: An examination of black and white clergy
Journal of Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities (2018)    PDF version

Clergy burnout: A comparison study with other helping professions
Pastoral Psychology (2017)    PDF version

The honeymoon is over: Occupational relocation and changes in mental health among United Methodist clergy
Review of Religious Research (2017)    PDF version

Persistent depressive symptoms in a population with high levels of occupational stress: trajectories offer insights to both chronicity and resilience
Journal of Psychiatric Practice (2018)    PDF version

Perceived social support, received social support, and depression among clergy
Journal of Social and Personal Relationships (2018)    PDF version

Attitudes and behaviors that differentiate clergy with positive mental health from those with burnout
Journal of Prevention & Intervention in the Community (2019)    PDF version

A prospective study of clergy spiritual well-being, depressive symptoms, and occupational distress
Psychology of Religion and Spirituality (2019)    PDF version

Social Networks, Support, and Depressive Symptoms: Gender Differences among Clergy
Socius (2019)    PDF version

Spiritual Well-being

Closeness to God Among Those Doing God’s Work: A Spiritual Well-Being Measure for Clergy
Journal of Religion and Health (2013)    PDF version

Relationships between Sabbath observance and mental, physical, and spiritual health in clergy
Pastoral Psychology (2019)     PDF version

A prospective study of clergy spiritual well-being, depressive symptoms, and occupational distress
Psychology of Religion and Spirituality (2019)    PDF version

Rural Clergy

Are Rural Clergy Worse Off?: An Examination of Occupational Conditions and Pastoral Experiences in a Sample of United Methodist Clergy
Sociology of Religion: A Quarterly Review (2011)        PDF version

Explaining Rural/Non-rural Disparities in Physical Health-related Quality of Life:  A Study of United Methodist Clergy in North Carolina
Quality of Life Research (2010)    PDF version

Research Methods

Use of a Randomized Multiple Baseline Design: Rationale and Design of the Spirited Life Holistic Health Intervention Study
Contemporary Clinical Trials (2013)    PDF version

Methodological Considerations in the Use of Name Generators and Interpreters
Social Networks (2015)    PDF version

Measuring stress in a clergy population: Lessons learned from cognitive interview testing of the Perceived Stress Scale with clergy
Research in the Social Scientific Study of Religion (2015)    PDF version