Objective: To identify African American cultural characteristics that may be used to modify clinical trial designs and behavioral programs aimed at losing weight and maintaining weight loss.
Design: Focus group discussions.
Setting: University-affiliated biomedical research center.
Participants: Thirty-one African American men and women who completed the screening process, but were ineligible for the Weight Loss Maintenance (WLM) trial, participated in one of five focus group sessions. WLM is a randomized controlled trial that compares two lifestyle interventions for preventing weight regain in individuals who have successfully lost weight in a group-based behavioral weight loss program.
Results: Nine themes emerged as cultural characteristics specific to African Americans seeking participation in a lifestyle change program: (1) religion is a powerful force; (2) family structure; (3) integration dismantled the African American family; (4) general mistrust of Caucasians; (5) African Americans are undervalued and not respected as a people; (6) limited resources equal limited ability to make lifestyle changes; (7) preservation of an explicit ethnic identity; (8) education is the key to success as an African American; and (9) communication skills are vital.
Conclusions: Identifying cultural characteristics specific to African Americans may help investigators design clinical trials that will enhance outcomes and improve the generalizability of results in ethnic minority populations.