142nd APHA Annual Meeting and Exposition

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“It's Like Backing up Science with Scripture”: Perceptions of HeartSmarts, a Faith-based Cardiovascular Health Education Program

142nd APHA Annual Meeting and Exposition (November 15 - November 19, 2014): http://www.apha.org/events-and-meetings/annual
Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Naa-Solo Tettey, EdD, MPH, MCHES, CPH , Department of Public Health, William Paterson Univeristy/New York Presbyterian Hospital, New York, NY
“It’s Like Backing up Science with Scripture”: Perceptions of HeartSmarts, a Faith-based Cardiovascular Health Education Program


Background: “HeartSmarts” is a faith-based cardiovascular health education program for underserved communities aimed at using biblical scripture and culturally relevant material to disseminate cardiovascular disease (CVD) prevention messages.

Objective: To develop and implement a community faith-based cardiovascular disease health promotion program, “HeartSmarts,” and to evaluate participants’ perceptions of it. 

Methods:A participatory research approach, including informant interviews with an ecumenical advisory board, was used to identify critical components to address CVD. A manual was created by incorporating Biblical scriptures relating to health messages drawn from existing health manuals oriented towards African-Americans (AAs). Lay health educators active in their churches participated in a 12-week training to learn basics of CVD, motivational interviewing, and methods to deliver manual content to congregation members.

Results:14 churches in NYC attended largely by AAs participated. 199 participants completed the program, and 137 completed an open-ended survey on their perceptions of the program.  Results showed positive perceptions, particularly regarding the use of Biblical texts, and high support of the AA focus and quality of the program.

Conclusion:Participants reported increased CVD knowledge, prevention strategies, and health behavior changes. Most believed HeartSmarts should be expanded to other communities and recognized a need for this type of education among AAs.

Practice Implications: The HeartSmarts program may present an effective model for disseminating health messages in a culturally and community engaged way. Future studies will determine its impact on health behavior change.

Learning Areas:

Administer health education strategies, interventions and programs
Assessment of individual and community needs for health education
Chronic disease management and prevention
Diversity and culture
Implementation of health education strategies, interventions and programs
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs

Learning Objectives:
Discuss the effectiveness of faith-based versus faith-placed health education initiatives. Identify strategies for creating a culture of wellness in faith based organizations. Demonstrate the importance of creating collaborations between academic and community based organizations.

Keyword(s): Community-Based Partnership & Collaboration, Faith Community

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have worked in the fields of public health and health education for over ten years. I lecture regularly on faith-based health interventions, wellness, and chronic disease prevention. I am the co-principle investigator on the paper being submitted. I have worked to develop best practices for creating health education programs for faith-based organizations.
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.