Date of Conferral
Doctor of Public Health (DrPH)
In the United States, African-American residents are an underserved population with evidence of higher health disparities than those associated with any other race, contributing to escalating health care costs. Despite the absence of health promotion and wellness training, pastors in predominately Black churches accept the responsibility for addressing more than the spiritual needs of their church members. The purpose of this qualitative grounded theory research study was to explore the perspectives of African-American Christian pastors on giving health guidance and their lived experiences as health promotion advocates. A total of 10 African-American Christian pastors were voluntarily recruited from 3 southern U.S. states using both purposeful and theoretical sampling strategies. Interviewing was the main data collection method. Social cognitive theory along with grounded theory were used to examine the interactions based on participants' points of view, and inductive analysis was also used. The results indicated that pastors have knowledge of their congregational members' health challenges and goals and have achieved positive health outcomes. The pastors also agreed that seminary should incorporate more information on health and wellness into the curriculum. These findings suggest that pastors, who are faith-based resources outside of health care systems, need to be educated, equipped, guided, and groomed as health leaders to assist efforts to reduce or eliminate health care disparities. Members of the clergy, their church members, and surrounding community residents would all benefit from the knowledge, understanding, and development of skills to change their unhealthy lifestyle habits and effective self- management of chronic diseases to achieve positive health outcomes.