Student as health coach: Improving cardiovascular disease prevention across various life stages in an underserved community
Cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factors, (e.g. obesity, sedentary lifestyle) in adolescence are increasingly prevalent in underserved African-American communities nationwide. By increasing adolescents' knowledge, ability to make healthy lifestyle changes, and pairing them with a parent for health education, teens may decrease CVD risk across various life stages throughout their community. The objective of this project was to increase underserved, low-income African-American families' knowledge of CVD and personal risk factors; positively impact attitudes and beliefs about ability to perform and coach healthy lifestyle attitudes and behaviors. 201 teens participated as coaches through groups in four Delaware high schools. They engaged in online education and evening wellness activities with their mothers, focusing on CVD prevention, cognitive behavioral therapy, nutrition, exercise, and stress management. 65 adult participants were screened for hypertension, fasting glucose and lipid profile. We assessed their knowledge and behaviors via pre- and post-surveys and focus groups during the two-year program. Self-reported moderate physical activity increased from 60 minutes to 120 minutes weekly (p < 0.001). The coaches (86%) and mothers (97%) increased their CVD knowledge, ability to deal with stress and to make healthier food choices. Students were eager to continue their role as a health coach (85%) and highly recommended the program to other teens (96%). Teens and adults reported feeling more connected, engaged and motivated to work in partnership for healthy lifestyle behavior changes. An innovative, student-as-coach model effectively encourages CVD prevention in an underserved population. This program potentially benefits the health of the family across various life stages.
Administer health education strategies, interventions and programs
Diversity and culture
Implementation of health education strategies, interventions and programs
Public health or related education
Identify a program model for effective behavior change in a multi-generational population.
Describe new approaches for engagement of adolescents and their adult family members in cardiovascular disease prevention and associated wellness activities.
Keyword(s): School-Based Programs, Family Involvement
Presenting author's disclosure statement:
Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have worked in health education for over 12 years, with a focus on healthy lifestyle behavior modification. I am a certified wellness coach and helped train the social workers involved in this program. I have managed and coordinated this program from its inception.
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.