Introduction: In low-income and underserved populations, financial hardship and multiple competing roles and responsibilities lead to difficulties in lifestyle change for cardiovascular disease (CVD) prevention. To improve CVD prevention behaviors, we adapted, pilot-tested, and evaluated a problem-solving intervention designed to address barriers to lifestyle change.
Methods: The sample consisted of 81 participants from 3 underserved populations, including 28 Hispanic or non-Hispanic white women in a western community (site 1), 31 African-American women in a semirural southern community (site 2), and 22 adults in an Appalachian community (site 3). Incorporating focus group findings, we assessed a standardized intervention involving 6-to-8 week group sessions devoted to problem-solving in the fall of 2009.
Results: Most sessions were attended by 76.5% of participants, demonstrating participant adoption and engagement. The intervention resulted in significant improvement in problem-solving skills (P < .001) and perceived stress (P < .05). Diet, physical activity, and weight remained stable, although 72% of individuals reported maintenance or increase in daily fruit and vegetable intake, and 67% reported maintenance or increase in daily physical activity.
Conclusion: Study results suggest the intervention was acceptable to rural, underserved populations and effective in training them in problem-solving skills and stress management for CVD risk reduction.