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Public Health Rep. 2001; 116(Suppl 1): 68–81.
PMCID: PMC1913665

Project Joy: faith based cardiovascular health promotion for African American women.


OBJECTIVE: The authors tested the impact on cardiovascular risk profiles of African American women ages 40 years and older after one year of participation in one of three church-based nutrition and physical activity strategies: a standard behavioral group intervention, the standard intervention supplemented with spiritual strategies, or self-help strategies. METHODS: Women were screened at baseline and after one year of participation. The authors analyzed intention-to-treat within group and between groups using a generalized estimating equations adjustment for intra-church clustering. Because spiritual strategies were added to the standard intervention by participants themselves, the results from both active groups were similar and, thus, combined for comparisons with the self-help group. RESULTS: A total of 529 women from 16 churches enrolled. Intervention participants exhibited significant improvements in body weight (-1.1 lbs), waist circumference (-0.66 inches), systolic blood pressure (-1.6 mmHg), dietary energy (-117 kcal), dietary total fat (-8 g), and sodium intake (-145 mg). The self-help group did not. In the active intervention group, women in the top decile for weight loss at one year had even larger, clinically meaningful changes in risk outcomes (-19.8 lbs). CONCLUSIONS: Intervention participants achieved clinically important improvements in cardiovascular disease risk profiles one year after program initiation, which did not occur in the self-help group. Church-based interventions can significantly benefit the cardiovascular health of African American women.

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