Clergy Health Initiative, Director

Rae Jean Proeschold-Bell, PhD, is a Professor of Global Health at Duke University and Director of the Duke Clergy Health Initiative, for which she has been the lead researcher since its inception in 2007. Rae Jean received her doctorate in clinical-community psychology in 2003. She is an expert in conducting clinical trials of behavioral interventions that integrate physical and mental health. She has designed and rigorously tested two interventions for United Methodist clergy: Spirited Life, which promoted holistic health and reduced metabolic syndrome, and Selah, which tested stress management practices and reduced stress and anxiety symptoms while enhancing positive mental health. 

Rae Jean directs the North Carolina Statewide Longitudinal Clergy Health Survey of over 3,000 United Methodist clergy, whose eighth wave in fall 2023 made it span 15 years. This data is used to identify clergy needs and determine risk and protective factors for the physical, mental, and spiritual well-being of clergy over time. She is co-author of the book Faithful and Fractured: Responding to the Clergy Health Crisis and of nearly 40 articles on clergy well-being, including the first published article calling attention to high rates of obesity and chronic disease among clergy and several articles on flourishing clergy.

The Duke Clergy Health Initiative is currently designing resources for clergy and broadly disseminating their findings in ways accessible to clergy, with an emphasis on United Methodist clergy. These resources include Pastor & Parish for S/PRCs and Keeping the Faith: Conversations to Strengthen the Bond Between Pastors and Church Leaders.

Rae Jean has two kids with her husband Scott Proeschold-Bell and attends CityWell UMC in Durham, NC. She loves people, birding, hiking, and Halloween.