Objectives: The Minnesota Heart Health Program is a 13-year research and demonstration project to reduce morbidity and mortality from coronary heart disease in whole communities.
Methods: Three pairs of communities were matched on size and type; each pair had one education site and one comparison site. After baseline surveys, a 5- to 6-year program of mass media, community organization, and direct education for risk reduction was begun in the education communities, whereas surveys continued in all sites.
Results: Many intervention components proved effective in targeted groups. However, against a background of strong secular trends of increasing health promotion and declining risk factors, the overall program effects were modest in size and duration and generally within chance levels.
Conclusions: These findings suggest that even such an intense program may not be able to generate enough additional exposure to risk reduction messages and activities in a large enough fraction of the population to accelerate the remarkably favorable secular trends in health promotion activities and in most coronary heart disease risk factors present in the study communities.