Understanding Family-Level Effects of Adult Chronic Disease Management Programs: Perceived Influences of Behavior Change on Adolescent Family Members' Health Behaviors Among Low-Income African Americans With Uncontrolled Hypertensions

Front Pediatr. 2019 Jan 10:6:386. doi: 10.3389/fped.2018.00386. eCollection 2018.


Background: Despite improvements in cardiovascular disease (CVD) prevention and treatment, low-income African Americans experience disparities in CVD-related morbidity and mortality. Childhood obesity disparities and poor diet and physical activity behaviors contribute to CVD disparities throughout the life course. Given the potential for intergenerational transmission of CVD risk, it is important to determine whether adult disease management interventions could be modified to achieve family-level benefits and improve primary prevention among high-risk youth. Objective: To explore mechanisms by which African-American adults' (referred to as index patients) participation in a hypertension disease management trial influences adolescent family members' (referred to as adolescents) lifestyle behaviors. Design/Methods: The study recruited index patients from the Achieving blood pressure Control Together (ACT) study who reported living with an adolescent ages 12-17 years old. Index patients and adolescents were recruited for in-depth interviews and were asked about any family-level changes to diet and physical activity behaviors during or after participation in the ACT study. If family-level changes were described, index patients and adolescents were asked whether role modeling, changes in the home food environment, meal preparation, and family functioning contributed to these changes. These mechanisms were hypothesize to be important based on existing research suggesting that parental involvement in childhood obesity interventions influences child and adolescent weight status. Thematic content analysis of transcribed interviews identified both a priori and emergent themes. Results: Eleven index patients and their adolescents participated in in-depth interviews. Index patients and adolescents both described changes to the home food environment and meal preparation. Role modeling was salient to index patients, particularly regarding healthy eating behaviors. Changes in family functioning due to study participation were not endorsed by index patients or adolescents. Emergent themes included adolescent care-taking of index patients and varying perceptions by index patients of their influence on adolescents' health behaviors. Conclusions: Our findings suggest that disease management interventions directed at high-risk adult populations may influence adolescent family members' health behaviors. We find support for the hypotheses that role modeling and changes to the home food environment are mechanisms by which family-level health behavior change occurs. Adolescents' roles as caretakers for index patients emerged as another potential mechanism. Future research should explore these mechanisms and ways to leverage disease management to support both adult and adolescent health behavior change.

Keywords: cardiovascular diseases; disease management; family health; health disparities; health promotion; hypertension.