Multisite Health Promotion Intervention Significantly Impacts Behaviors Linked to Chronic Diseases Among African Americans

May 2011—Medical advances such as Highly Active Antiretroviral Therapy (HAART) have shifted the progression of HIV from terminal to chronic. Concomitantly as patients live longer, they experience increasing mortality from chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and certain cancers. Concern for this growing epidemic prompted the research team at SIG to focus on a health promotion intervention in the first multisite study with African American heterosexual couples where one person was HIV-positive. Participants were recruited in Atlanta, Los Angeles, New York City, and Philadelphia from HIV care clinics, AIDS service organizations, targeted street outreach, and through the media.

Study Details:

  • Half of 535 couples were randomized to receive the health promotion intervention while the other half received an HIV risk reduction intervention
  • Health promotion participants learned about diet and nutrition, the benefits of exercise, and the importance of annual cancer screenings (breast and prostate)
  • Data were collected about health behaviors at baseline, and 6- and 12-months post intervention via an audio computer-assisted self-interview (ACASI)

Major Findings:

  • Over a 12-month follow-up, couples that received the health promotion intervention reported healthier food consumption
  • Improved their physical activity
  • Were more likely to engage in cancer screenings
  • Although the behavioral goals were geared toward the individual, participation as a couple encouraged them to support and motivate each other

This study addressed more behaviors than most interventions and offers an approach that will help reduce the disproportionately high morbidity and mortality rates from chronic diseases in African Americans.

The National Institute of Mental Health funded this study. For more information, you may refer to the original paper.

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