Online Program

“I am not obese just a little fat” understanding the way in which culture affects how health risks are perceived among a population of rural African americans: Results from a faith-based community-engaged health promotion intervention

Monday, November 4, 2013 : 8:50 a.m. - 9:10 a.m.

Maghboeba Mosavel, Ph.D., Department of Social and Behavioral Health, Virginia Commonwealth University, School of Medicine, Richmond, VA
Michelle Laws, MA, PhD student, Department of Social and Behavioral Health, VCU School of Medicine, Department of Social and Behavioral Health, Richmond, VA
Despite significant advances in medical research across the spectrum of chronic diseases, African Americans continue to shoulder a disproportionate share of mortality and morbidity. This disparity in the burden of disease is often exacerbated by higher poverty rates, limited access to health resources and low response rates to health promotion interventions. While many African Americans in both urban and rural locations are confronted with the confounding effects of poverty and unequal burden of disease, the collective impact on health outcomes is particularly pronounced in rural communities. Health promotion programs targeted at improving the health outcomes of African Americans in rural communities must consider the social and cultural contexts that influence health behaviors. We will present findings from a community-engaged faith-based health promotion intervention—Project LIFE! conducted in a rural area of Virginia designed to reduce the risks of cancer and obesity. Three historically black churches (HBCs) were selected to participate in this eight-month health promotion program using lay health educators (LIFE! coaches) as front line health promoters. Data were collected using a pre and post community survey, gender-stratified focus groups, LIFE! coaches questionnaires and health promotion activities evaluations and logs. The major findings from this faith-based health promotion intervention underscore the importance of considering the influence of cultural norms on how health risks are conceptualized and how health promotive behaviors are adapted.

Learning Areas:

Administer health education strategies, interventions and programs
Assessment of individual and community needs for health education
Diversity and culture
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Describe an evidence-based health promotion faith-based intervention model for reaching African American populations in rural communities to reduce risks associated with obesity and cancer. Discuss the role that history and cultural beliefs and norms play in influencing health behaviors and perceptions about health risks among African Americans in a rural community. Identify the challenges and effective responses that can thwart the successful implementation of health promotion interventions among church-attending African Americans in rural communities. Demonstrate the process of recruiting, training, and engaging lay persons from church congregations as health promoters and health educators to change the culture of historically black churches that affect health behavior.

Keyword(s): African American, Community Health Promoters

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: Served as co-PI on the project.
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.