A Multilevel Diabetes and CVD Risk Reduction Intervention in African American Churches: Project Faith Influencing Transformation (FIT) Feasibility and Outcomes

J Racial Ethn Health Disparities. 2020 Dec;7(6):1160-1171. doi: 10.1007/s40615-020-00740-8. Epub 2020 Apr 23.


Wide-reaching health promotion interventions are needed in influential, accessible community settings to address African American (AA) diabetes and CVD disparities. Most AAs are overweight/obese, which is a primary clinical risk factor for diabetes/CVD. Using a faith-community-engaged approach, this study examined feasibility and outcomes of Project Faith Influencing Transformation (FIT), a diabetes/CVD screening, prevention, and linkage to care pilot intervention to increase weight loss in AA church-populations at 8 months. Six churches were matched and randomized to multilevel FIT intervention or standard education control arms. Key multilevel religiously tailored FIT intervention components included: (a) individual self-help materials (e.g., risk checklists, pledge cards); (b) YMCA-facilitated weekly group Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP) weight loss classes; (c) church service activities (e.g., sermons, responsive readings); and (d) church-community text/voice messages to promote healthy eating and physical activity. Health screenings (e.g., weight, blood pressure, blood glucose) were held during church services to identify participants with diabetes/CVD risks and refer them to their church's DPP class and linkage to care services. Participants (N = 352 church members and community members using churches' outreach ministries) were primarily female (67%) and overweight/obese (87%). Overall, FIT intervention participants were significantly more likely to achieve a > 5 lb weight loss (OR = 1.6; CI = 1.24, 2.01) than controls. Odds of intervention FIT-DPP participants achieving a > 5 lb weight loss were 3.6 times more than controls (p < .07). Exposure to sermons, text/email messages, brochures, commitment cards, and posters was significantly related to > 5 lb. weight loss. AA churches can feasibly assist in increasing reach and impact of diabetes/CVD risk reduction interventions with intensive weight loss components among at risk AA church-populations.

Keywords: African Americans; Churches; Community-based participatory research; Culturally tailored; Diabetes and CVD prevention; Health screenings.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Black or African American*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / prevention & control*
  • Diabetes Mellitus / prevention & control*
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Female
  • Health Promotion / methods*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mass Screening
  • Middle Aged
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care
  • Protestantism*
  • Risk Reduction Behavior*
  • Young Adult