Investigating the Influence of African American Clergy on Congregants' Medical Decision-Making at the End of Life
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Crawford, David L.
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Scientific literature has demonstrated correlations between spirituality and health outcomes at the end of life, both in relation to emotional well-being and treatment options pursued. However, the impact of pastoral visits has yet to be studied as it pertains to congregants’ medical decision-making. This thesis utilizes a Grounded Theory approach to study clerical influence through literature review and semi-structured interviews with pastors in McLennan County. Analysis revealed that pastors can in fact play a role in guiding their congregants’ medical decision-making, especially when their counsel is sought during a health crisis. Emergent themes from this study indicate that pastors may impact the healthcare model by influencing the doctor-patient relationship, improving emotional health through prayer, and providing encouragement for palliative care options such as hospice.