Perceived Health Needs of Church Leaders and Members: A Secondary Data Analysis of the Mid-South Congregational Health Survey


Needs assessments have been successful in helping communities and congregations focus their health ministry efforts; however, most have used leader perceptions of congregational health needs. The purpose of this study was to examine and compare the self-reported needs of both church leaders and members to be addressed by their congregation. Church leaders (n = 369) and members (n = 459) from 92 congregations completed the 2019 Mid-South Congregational Health Survey. Frequencies and generalized linear mixed models (GLMM) were performed to examine the top 10 self-reported needs and associations by church role, respectively. Of the top 10 congregational needs, anxiety or depression, high blood pressure, stress, and healthy foods were ranked identically regardless of church role. Church leaders perceived obesity and diabetes to be important congregational health needs, whereas members perceived affordable health care and heart disease to be important congregational health needs. GLMM, controlling for within-church clustering and covariates, revealed church leaders were more likely than members to report obesity (odds ratio [OR]: 1.93, 95% confidence interval [CI] = [1.39, 2.67], p <.0001) and diabetes (OR: 1.73, 95% CI = [1.24, 2.41], p =.001) as congregational needs. Findings display similarities and differences in needs reported by church role. Including many perspectives when conducting congregational health needs assessments will assist the development of effective faith-based health promotion programs.

Publication Title

Health Promotion Practice