Community health worker-delivered weight management intervention among public housing residents: A feasibility study

Prev Med Rep. 2021 Mar 16;22:101360. doi: 10.1016/j.pmedr.2021.101360. eCollection 2021 Jun.


Community health worker-led interventions may be an optimal approach to promote behavior change among populations with low incomes due to the community health workers' unique insights into participants' social and environmental contexts and potential ability to deliver interventions widely. The objective was to determine the feasibility (implementation, acceptability, preliminary efficacy) of a weight management intervention for adults living in public housing developments. In 2016-2018, in Boston Massachusetts, we conducted a 3-month, two-group randomized trial comparing participants who received a tailored feedback report (control group) to participants who received the same report plus behavioral counseling. Community health workers provided up to 12 motivational interviewing-based counseling sessions in English or Spanish for diet and physical activity behaviors using a website designed to guide standardized content delivery. 102 participants enrolled; 8 (7.8%) were lost at 3-month follow up. Mean age was 46.5 (SD = 11.9) years; the majority were women (88%), Hispanic (67%), with ≤ high school degree (62%). For implementation, among intervention group participants (n = 50), 5 completed 0 sessions and 45 completed a mean of 4.6 (SD = 3.1) sessions. For acceptability, most indicated they would be very likely (79%) to participate again. For preliminary efficacy, adjusted linear regression models showed mean changes in weight (-0.94 kg, p = 0.31), moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (+11.7 min/day, p = 0.14), and fruit/vegetable intake (+2.30 servings/day, p < 0.0001) in the intervention vs. control group. Findings indicate a low-income public housing population was reached through a community health worker-led intervention with sufficient implementation and acceptability and promising beneficial changes in weight, nutrition, and physical activity outcomes.

Keywords: Community health workers; Diet; Physical activity; Public housing; Weight management.