Rae Jean Proeschold-Bell

Research Professor, Global Health

Advisor, DGHI Evidence Lab

Since 2003, Rae Jean Proeschold-Bell, PhD, has developed and tested interventions that integrate mental and physical health. In 2014, she began studying the presence of positive mental health--and not just the absence of mental illness--as a way to prevent health problems and promote well-being.

Rae Jean’s current research questions are:

  • What is the relationship between mental health and physical health across time?
  • What is the role of positive mental health in initial behavior change, and in sustaining healthy behaviors?
  • Can inducing certain positive emotions impact behavior change?
  • How can occupational groups of people who are servant-hearted sustain well-being?

To answer these questions, Rae Jean has conducted randomized controlled trials with patients with hepatitis C and alcohol use (Hep ART), and with clergy with obesity and depression, as well as those who are already thriving (Spirited Life). During 2018-2022, she is testing several stress symptom reduction and positive mental health promotion interventions (Selah) and identifying ways to prevent burnout among medical providers.

Rae Jean’s research focuses on employees who are ‘servant-hearted’ and engaged in work they find sacred, such that they over-exert themselves regularly and experience strong emotions, putting them at risk for mental and physical health problems. She works with:

  • US clergy (Clergy Health Initiative)
  • Caregivers of orphaned and vulnerable children in Cambodia, India, Kenya, and Ethiopia (Caregiver Flourishing)
  • Medical providers, and
  • Teachers in Cambodia, Kenya, and Qatar (Teacher Wellbeing Project)

Her book, Faithful and Fractured: Responding to the Clergy Health Crisis, with co-author Jason Byassee was published by Baker Academic in 2018 and captures 10 years of research on the holistic health of clergy.

As Advisor and Founding Director of the DGHI Evidence Lab, Rae Jean strives to use and improve upon innovative research designs and has conducted under-utilized yet high-inference research designs. She provides consultations on evaluating health interventions in global contexts and brings behavior change knowledge to device uptake, such as in the interdisciplinary team led by Lavanya Vasudevan.

Publications