Active & Healthy Brotherhood

Background: Compared to other groups in the United States, African-American men are more likely to have high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease, which increase the risks for early death, stroke, other sickness, and poor life quality. African-American males are also less likely to go to the doctor to get medical care and are less likely to have lifestyles that can improve their health. Our team met with African-American males to learn how to help them improve their health. The men said not knowing the basic facts about chronic disease or how to manage stress made it difficult to control. They also said they had trouble eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly, particularly when trying to stay within a budget.

Objectives: This study will test ways to improve health behaviors using an intervention that has been specially designed for African-American men. The program, called Active & Healthy Brotherhood (AHB), will provide information on basic health, and healthy eating, physical activity, stress management, and how to get medical care when needed.

Methods: Participants in the AHB group sessions will receive about 16 AHB sessions over about four months and three phone calls, about every other week, to check on their progress after the sessions are over. We will compare the AHB intervention with a control group that will receive basic health information in videos and brochures. All information will be provided by health educators. After the six-month intervention, participants will practice behaviors on their own for another six months.

Participants will be 440 black men, ages 21 and older, who have high blood pressure, diabetes, or heart disease. We will also recruit men who say they are not eating a healthy diet or exercising and therefore are at high risk for getting disease. We will recruit from the community. Participants will be randomly assigned to either the intervention or the control group for 6 months. We will collect data from participants at the beginning of the study, after 6 months when the intervention is over, and again at 12 months. We will measure how well each strategy worked to improve health behaviors and lower risk factors, such as blood pressure, blood sugar, and weight. We will also measure age, income, and other factors to see whether they affect how well the strategies work. This project is led by researchers, health service providers, and patients, who all helped with the grant proposal. Everyone on the research team will help finalize the strategies, recruit patients, and interpret the study data.

Anticipated Impact: If any of the strategies work, the team will help identify ways to spread use of those interventions to various places where people might get medical advice (for example, churches). Data from this project will be used to determine the best ways to help people manage their own health.

This research is supported by the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute.

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