“As a Community, We Need to be More Health Conscious”: Pastors’ Perceptions on the Health Status of the Black Church and African-American Communities Academic Article uri icon


  • BACKGROUND: Churches are recognized for their potential capacity to provide health services and interventions to address health disparities in African-Americans (blacks). Since pastors are central community leaders, their support and involvement can influence both implementation and outcomes for church-based health programs. The purpose of this qualitative study was to explore pastors' perceptions of congregant health status within the black church. METHODS: Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 11 pastors whose female congregants participated in a physical activity intervention. Thematic analysis techniques were used to analyze interview data. RESULTS: Three major themes emerged: (1) health risks in the African-American community, (2) health promotion in the black church, and (3) the importance of women in the black family and the church. Pastors noted numerous health disparities affecting their congregants and the African-American community at large, including obesity and infant mortality. They viewed health holistically and included faith in their perspectives. According to pastors, holistic health was promoted through health ministry programming in black churches. Women were described as the cornerstone of the black church, yet faced unique health concerns from their roles as family caretakers and congregants. DISCUSSION: Pastors shared their major concerns for congregant health status and the African-American community. Health interventions focusing on African-Americans in church settings should include pastor involvement and should incorporate holistic approaches to address health risks.

author list (cited authors)

  • Gross, T. T., Story, C. R., Harvey, I. S., Allsopp, M., & Whitt-Glover, M.

citation count

  • 9

publication date

  • June 2018