272656 Sisters in Action: A Healthy Lifestyle Program for African American Women

Wednesday, October 31, 2012 : 12:50 PM - 1:10 PM

Linda Heine, BSN, RN , Healthier Communities and Frederik Meijer Heart & Vasular Institute, Spectrum Health, Grand Rapids, MI
Cassandra Hankins, MA LLPC , Healthier Communities and Frederik Meijer Heart & Vasular Institute, Spectrum Health, Grand Rapids, MI
Introduction: The Sisters in Action (SIA) Program is a comprehensive healthy lifestyle improvement initiative focused on combating obesity among African American women. SIA modified the existing evidence-based CDC WISEWOMAN program to develop an innovative model combining exercise, nutrition, wellness education, and case management into two 12-week sessions of intervention and maintenance.

Methods: Women with a BMI between 25 and 55 were eligible to enroll. Informed consent and participation expectations were explained. Participants were pre-screened to assess the following exclusion criteria: pregnancy, uncontrolled diabetes or blood pressure, or other significant medical history problems. While no women were excluded, pregnant women and those with abnormal ranges were referred to their health care providers. Total enrollment was 311; 81% (n=252), between ages 23-83 years (average age was 43), completed the program. Eighty-two percent (n=207) completed the intervention/education phase and 67% (n=169) completed the maintenance period.

Results: Sisters in Action obtained a moderate evidence-based rating from AHRQ based on pre- and post- implementation comparisons of blood pressure (59% improvement) and BMI (41.6% lost 1 BMI point minimum). Additional improvements included: increased physical activity (90%) and fruit and vegetable consumption (96%); decreased calorie consumption (91 %); and improved quality of life (100%).

Conclusions: Although challenges of communication, staffing, adherence to eligibility guidelines and program objectives existed, SIA successfully worked with community institutions and members to design, implement, and execute an effective healthy lifestyle program. Participants demonstrated improvements in their their physical and emotional health, built strong social networks and became more engaged in their communities.

Learning Areas:
Implementation of health education strategies, interventions and programs

Learning Objectives:
1. Describe innovative approaches for community programs that address overweight and obesity among women, specifically women of childbearing age. 2. Identify barriers and facilitators to the success of the Sisters in Action program. 3. Discuss recommendations for addressing challenges and achieving success in similar programs aimed at addressing the detrimental effects of overweight and obesity across the lifespan.

Keywords: Maternal Health, Behavior Modification

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am a Professional Counselor with a BS in Health Science and MA in Counseling specifically hired to coordinate the Sisters In Action grant. My background involves working with community programs and addressing mental wellness. My interests have been focused on the challenges and barriers that women face in regards to their health and wellness during their childrearing years. I currently supervise another Healthy Behaviors in Women grant.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.