Date of Award


Degree Name

PhD Leadership Studies

Dissertation Committee

Fred J. Galloway, EdD, Chair; Robert Donmoyer, PhD, Member; Geoffrey Hsu, DMin, Member


Clergy, Wellbeing, Holistic Wellbeing, Wellbeing Assessment, Pastoral Wellbeing


Some pastors are clearly in crisis. Research has indicated that clergy struggle to cope with the stressors of their profession. While pastoral work is overtly spiritual in nature, day-to-day tasks include interactions with God, themselves, congregants, and the world at large. Without multi-dimensional tools to consider their wellbeing, specifically assessments that reflect their worldview and role, pastors may remain unaware of dangerously low levels of wellbeing until they reach a place of crisis. Therefore, in this mixed methods study, the Holistic Pastoral Wellbeing Assessment (HPWA) was developed and tested to offer a validated, useful tool for pastors and those who support them.

The instrument utilized the World Health Organization's 2004 holistic framework, asserting that spiritual, psychological, physical, social, and economic dimensions are all integral to a person’s holistic wellbeing. Items for the HPWA were developed using data from pilot studies and the wellbeing literature. The instrument’s reliability and validity were considered in two phases. Phase one consisted of a statistical analysis of the quantitative data. Phase two incorporated qualitative interviews with participants to allow them to member check the reliability of their assessment results. Statistical analysis suggested that the HPWA attained a high level of internal and construct validity. Participants reported that their HPWA scores were accurate. However, it was more important to them that the assessment was also useful for personal reflection, starting conversations, and seeking change. Regression analysis showed that the age and theological affiliations of pastors were significantly correlated to pastors’ HPWA scores. Qualitative interview data from participants suggested that negative early ministry experiences, key relationships as leaders, and agency in their roles were explanatory to the demographic correlations.

This study actualizes holistic wellbeing theory into a validated and practical assessment tool. The HPWA may be useful to pastors and those who support them, helping to identify potential trouble spots in their own holistic wellbeing and to support their desired vocational trajectory. The results of this study suggest that research in the pastoral wellbeing field may benefit from moving from theory generation to the creation of practical tools, such as the HPWA, to support leaders’ holistic wellbeing.

Document Type

Dissertation: Open Access


Leadership Studies

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 4.0 License.