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.