Online Program

Practicing what they preach: Physical activity counseling practices of clergy

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Benjamin Webb, MS, CSCS, Department of Kinesiology, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA
Melissa Bopp, PhD, Dept. of Kinesiology, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA
Background: Clergy are positioned to promote physical activity (PA) to a large segment of the population through sermons and counseling. Although clergy provide counseling on a variety of issues, little is known about their PA counseling practices. Thus, this study examined clergy PA counseling practices. Methods: Convenience samples of clergy from the most common denominations in Pennsylvania completed a web-based survey about basic demographics and health-related variables, as well as whether they promote PA during sermons (does/doesn't) and individual counseling (does/doesn't). Basic frequencies and multivariate logistic regression were used to analyze the data. Results: Of the respondents (n=415), 60% were meeting PA recommendations and 46% were obese. Forty-five percent of the respondents counseled their congregation on PA during sermons and 25% provided individual PA counseling. Clergy more likely to promote PA in sermons were physically active [OR=2.01; p=.003], received seminary education related to health-counseling [OR=1.71; p=.045], and female [OR=2.37; p<.001]. Clergy with more chronic diseases [OR=0.81; p=.009] were less likely to promote PA during sermons. Clergy more likely to provide individual PA counseling were physically active [OR=2.28; p=.002] and female [OR=1.96; p=.018]. Obese clergy [OR=0.49; p=.028] and clergy with more chronic diseases [OR=0.69; p<.001] were less likely to provide individual PA counseling. Discussion: The results of this study indicate that clergy health, PA behavior, and gender may influence whether they promote PA during sermons and individual counseling. More research is needed to better understand the characteristics of clergy who engage in PA promotion in faith-based organizations.

Learning Areas:

Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs

Learning Objectives:
Describe the physical activity counseling practices of clergy. Discuss the factors associated with whether clergy provide physical activity counseling.

Keyword(s): Physical Activity, Counseling

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I developed and implemented the study. I also collected and analyzed all of the data for the study and I am the primary author of the abstract.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.