Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Maike Philipsen


Faith communities are often used as used as sites for health promotion research and the leaders of those faith communities play an important role in successful campus/faith community partnerships. This study examined (a) faith leaders’ definitions of health, (b) ways in which faith leaders envision campus/faith community partnerships to be structured, and (c) faith leaders’ perceptions of the roles that faith leaders may assume in such partnerships. Grounded theory methodology was used. In depth interviews were conducted with ten clergy members. The findings revealed that clergy embraced a holistic definition of health. They expressed a desire to participate in studies that resulted in improved health and contributed to improved relationships with the university. The clergy’s perceived roles in research that emerged from this study were (a) provide approval, (b) recruit participants, (c) identify volunteers, (d) lend influence, (e) keep information flowing, (f) serve as spiritual teacher/educator, and (g) provide input on the study design. A theory of the process of negotiating clergy roles emerged from the data. This theory suggests that the process of negotiating clergy roles is a fluid and iterative process that occurs at several phases of the research process from entertaining a proposal to participate in research through conducting the study. Implications for researchers include (a) investing time to develop relationships with faith communities, (b) identifying the importance of a holistic definition of health, (c) maintaining flexibility regarding the roles clergy may assume, and (d) identifying links between study objectives and the mission of the congregation.


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Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission

August 2011

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