Inactivity and Related Health Disparities in African-American Women in the Deep South

Inactivity and Related Health Disparities in African-American Women in the Deep South Addressed by UAB

A recent study led by Dori Pekmezi, PhD, assistant professor in the Department of Health Behavior at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB), focused on addressing high rates of inactivity and related health disparities among African-American women in the Deep South. Dr. Pekmezi—along with colleagues Karen M. Meneses, PhD, RN, professor and associate dean for research in the School of Nursing; Monica L. Baskin, PhD, associate professor in the Division of Preventive Medicine; Jamy D. Ard, MD, consultant in the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation; Michelle Y. Martin, PhD, associate professor in the Division of Preventive Medicine; and Wendy Demark-Wahnefried, PhD, Professor and Webb Endowed Chair of Nutrition Sciences and Associate Director, UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center; as well as UAB MPH students Natasia J. Adams and Cody J. Robinson—conducted focus groups and comprehensive literature reviews to identify the physical activity barriers and intervention preferences.

Study participants reviewed existing physical activity intervention materials and gave vital suggestions for increasing the appeal and relevance of the content. Once feedback was incorporated, the Home-Based Individually Tailored Physical Activity Print (HIPP) intervention was vetted in a one-month trial. On average, participants reported increasing moderate or greater physical activity from 89 minutes per week at baseline to 155 minutes per week at the one-month mark. PAR results indicated that gains in physical activity were primarily achieved through increased moderate intensity activities. Nonsignificant improvements in fitness, body mass index, and related psychosocial variables (such as processes of change, self-efficacy, and perceived disadvantages to participating in physical activity) were also found. Moreover, 70 percent of the sample reported increased motivation for physical activity at one month. Of participants who responded to the postintervention satisfaction questionnaire, 87.5 percent reported having read most or all of the intervention materials, which they found “helpful” and “enjoyable.” Responders also indicated they would recommend the program to friends.

The researchers concluded that low-cost, high-reach approaches to promoting physical activity have great potential for resolving health disparities in this at-risk group. These promising preliminary findings call for future randomized controlled trials using larger samples to determine efficacy.

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