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Public Health Rep. 2001;116 Suppl 1:68-81.

Project Joy: faith based cardiovascular health promotion for African American women.

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  • 1Center for Health Promotion, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland 21205, USA.



The authors tested the impact on cardiovascular risk profiles of African American women ages 40 years and older after one year of participation in one of three church-based nutrition and physical activity strategies: a standard behavioral group intervention, the standard intervention supplemented with spiritual strategies, or self-help strategies.


Women were screened at baseline and after one year of participation. The authors analyzed intention-to-treat within group and between groups using a generalized estimating equations adjustment for intra-church clustering. Because spiritual strategies were added to the standard intervention by participants themselves, the results from both active groups were similar and, thus, combined for comparisons with the self-help group.


A total of 529 women from 16 churches enrolled. Intervention participants exhibited significant improvements in body weight (-1.1 lbs), waist circumference (-0.66 inches), systolic blood pressure (-1.6 mmHg), dietary energy (-117 kcal), dietary total fat (-8 g), and sodium intake (-145 mg). The self-help group did not. In the active intervention group, women in the top decile for weight loss at one year had even larger, clinically meaningful changes in risk outcomes (-19.8 lbs).


Intervention participants achieved clinically important improvements in cardiovascular disease risk profiles one year after program initiation, which did not occur in the self-help group. Church-based interventions can significantly benefit the cardiovascular health of African American women.

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