Online Program

"The body is a temple": Using spirituality to motivate African American men to increase healthy behavior

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Emily Cornish, MPH, Center for Research on Men's Health, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN
Sydika McKissic, PhD, Institute for Research on Men's Health, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN
Donnatesa Dean, BS, Institute for Research on Men's Health, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN
Derek M. Griffith, PhD, Center for Medicine, Health and Society, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN
African American men are less likely than White men to meet physical activity recommendations.  A major challenge in efforts to increase physical activity among African American men is motivating them to overcome barriers such as family commitments, work, busy schedules and ambivalence to physical activity. Self-Determination Theory and Motivational Interviewing principles provide guidance on identifying sources of motivation that result from conscious choices and are personally relevant, thereby helping African American men connect physical activity with their broader values and goals. As part of Men on the Move – Nashville, a pilot intervention that enrolled forty African American men ages 30 to 70 (mean age = 47.2), participants completed exercises to help them connect their goals and values to their overall health. Being spiritual and being a good Christian were two of the top goals and values identified by these men: 97.5% (N=39) of men identified being moderately or very spiritual and 85% (N=34) of men identified being moderately or very religious. Furthermore, in follow-up focus groups, participants identified receiving health messages in religious settings or during group sessions as motivation to be healthier. These findings are congruent with other research that highlights the key role spirituality plays in the lives of African American men.  These findings implicate the importance of incorporating spirituality and religion in interventions for African American men. Connecting goals and values, such as spirituality and religion, to health and physical activity can lead to increased and sustained healthy behaviors.

Learning Areas:

Diversity and culture
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
Identify spirituality and religion as key sources of motivation to improve African American men’s health behavior. Describe the connection between core goals and values and spirituality and the role they play in improving the lives of African American men.

Keyword(s): African American, Men’s Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have been a key contributor to the development and implementation of multiple African American men’s health studies that focus on the improvement of health behavior relating to physical activity and healthy eating. Among my scientific interests has been the development of intrinsically motivating health messages and programs to promote positive long-term health behavior change within this population.
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.