Abstract

A combination of special studies and official statistics permits an evaluation of the health of the clergy over the past century. The mortality experience of clergymen has been consistently more favorable than that of the general male population. It also has been favorable in comparison with the experience of men in the legal and medical professions although this differential has been diminishing. The initially favorable position of the clergy relative to teachers has been reversed. There is some evidence of mortality differentials within the clerical profession by major faith, denomination, or ministerial specialty.

Clergymen have a relatively high mortality rate from cardiovascularrenal diseases and malignancies, but a very low rate for non-degenerative diseases and suicide. Morbidity statistics for the clergy are fragmentary. They may be over-represented among persons hospitalized for conditions that are emotional in origin. The clergy has some special advantages for studies of health, primarily that both membership in the study population and mortality can be determined with comparative ease. Several areas of future research are suggested.

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