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Keywords:

  • community;
  • faith-based;
  • physical environment;
  • social environment

Abstract

Objective

Megachurches (churches with 2,000 + attendance) represent a community institution with extensive reach within the United States population, although little is known about their health and wellness programming (HWP). The purpose of this study was to examine factors associated with HWP in megachurches.

Design and Sample

Staff at megachurches were recruited to take an online survey.

Measures

Questions addressed HWP, church demographics, health promotion-related beliefs, barriers, existing resources, and leader involvement (response rate 15.4%). Univariate and multiple regression analyses were used to examine influences on HWP. Results: Respondents (n = 110 churches) indicated that churches were primarily Baptist (23.6%) or Nondenominational (21.1%), had 2,500–4,999 congregation members (44.5%), primarily White congregation members (83.5%), and 31–60 employees (45.4%). More positive leader, advisory board, and church member perceptions of health and wellness, a supportive church doctrine for health, leader involvement in HWP, and the number of health-related and physical activity resources were positively associated with HWP (p < .05). Reporting fewer barriers was positively associated with HWP. The full regression model explained 56% of the variance in HWP, with number of health resources and church size as positive influences.

Conclusions

Targeting the social environment for health, implementing health-related policies and environmental changes could result in successful interventions for preventing chronic disease.