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Open AccessArticle

Objective Church Environment Audits and Attendee Perceptions of Healthy Eating and Physical Activity Supports within the Church Setting

1
Department of Health Promotion, Education, and Behavior, Arnold School of Public Health, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC 29208, USA
2
Prevention Research Center, Arnold School of Public Health, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC 29208, USA
3
Department of Exercise Science, Arnold School of Public Health, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC 29208, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(10), 3598; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17103598
Received: 29 April 2020 / Revised: 13 May 2020 / Accepted: 16 May 2020 / Published: 20 May 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Management and Promotion of Healthy Habits and Active Life)
Interventions in faith-based settings are increasingly popular, due to their effectiveness for improving attendee health outcomes and behaviors. Little past research has examined the important role of the church environment in individual-level outcomes using objective environmental audits. This study examined associations between the objectively measured physical church environment and attendees’ perceptions of physical activity (PA) and healthy eating (HE) supports within the church environment, self-efficacy for PA and HE, and self-reported PA and HE behaviors. Data were collected via church audits and church attendee surveys in 54 churches in a rural, medically underserved county in South Carolina. Multi-level regression was used to analyze associations between the church environment and outcomes. Physical elements of churches were positively related to attendees’ perceptions of church environment supports for PA (B = 0.03, 95% CI = 0.01, 0.05) and HE (B = 0.05, 95% CI = 0.01, 0.09) and there was a significant interaction between perceptions of HE supports and HE church environment. Self-efficacy and behaviors for PA and HE did not show an association with the church environment. Future research should establish a temporal relationship between the church environment and these important constructs for improving health. Future faith-based interventions should apply infrastructure changes to the church environment to influence important mediating constructs to health behavior. View Full-Text
Keywords: church environment; faith-based setting; health behavior; perceived environment; self-efficacy church environment; faith-based setting; health behavior; perceived environment; self-efficacy
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Wende, M.E.; Kaczynski, A.T.; Bernhart, J.A.; Dunn, C.G.; Wilcox, S. Objective Church Environment Audits and Attendee Perceptions of Healthy Eating and Physical Activity Supports within the Church Setting. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17, 3598.

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