ABSTRACT Objectives: Since the 1980s, there has been a growing, but little studied, movement that organizes church-based health services under the direction of a coordinator, usually a registered nurse. These Congregational Health Ministries (CHMs) emphasize health promotion and disease prevention. We compared the perceptions of pastors with and without organized CHMs and the characteristics of their congregations' health ministries.
Design: We used a quantitative, cross-sectional survey design.
Sample: We surveyed a national multidenominational sample of 349 pastors representing over 80 Christian denominations.
Results: With limited resources, CHMs provide significant health promotion, disease prevention, and support services. Pastors with CHMs were significantly more involved in health promotion and disease prevention activities. Pastors without CHMs perceived a need for congregations to be involved in health-related services and were willing to become involved if they have adequate resources.
Conclusions: Because of long-term trusting relationships that exist between congregants and those who minister to them, religious congregations may be ideally suited to provide cost-effective, community-based health promotion and disease prevention services as well as health-supporting services to community-dwelling elderly and persons with chronic illnesses.