The Development of Health for Hearts United: A Longitudinal Church-based Intervention to Reduce Cardiovascular Risk in Mid-life and Older African Americans

Ethn Dis. 2017 Jan 19;27(1):21-30. doi: 10.18865/ed.27.1.21.


This article describes Health for Hearts United, a longitudinal church-based intervention to reduce cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk in mid-life and older African Americans. Using community-based participatory research (CBPR) approaches and undergirded by both the Socio-ecological Theory and the Transtheoretical Model of Behavior Change, the 18-month intervention was developed in six north Florida churches, randomly assigned as treatment or comparison. The intervention was framed around three conceptual components: awareness building (individual knowledge development); clinical learning (individual and small group educational sessions); and efficacy development (recognition and sustainability). We identified three lessons learned: providing consistency in programming even during participant absences; providing structured activities to assist health ministries in sustainability; and addressing changes at the church level. Recommendations include church-based approaches that reflect multi-level CBPR and the collaborative faith model.

Keywords: African Americans; Cardiovascular Disease; Church-based Health; Community-Based Participatory Research; Longitudinal Intervention; Older Adults.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • African Americans*
  • Aged
  • Biobehavioral Sciences
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / ethnology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / prevention & control*
  • Community-Based Participatory Research
  • Female
  • Florida
  • Health Behavior
  • Health Promotion*
  • Humans
  • Life Style
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity / complications
  • Obesity / ethnology
  • Obesity / prevention & control
  • Religion and Medicine*
  • Risk Assessment