Mobile application to improve the heart health of A
ROCHESTER, Minn. — Mobile apps are popular tools for people looking to improve their health, but are they effective? They can be if the application is culturally adapted to the needs of its users.
In a study published on Monday July 18 in Traffic, Mayo Clinic researchers evaluated the effectiveness of a culturally relevant mobile app designed to improve the heart health of African Americans in religious communities. Researchers found that people who participated in a 10-week clinical trial using the app experienced significant improvements in overall heart health scores and improvements in key diet-related heart health behaviors and physical activity.
African Americans are disproportionately affected by cardiovascular disease, compared to the general population. These differences are due to underlying cardiovascular risk factors, as well as social and economic inequalities, according to a report by the American Heart Association.
“Our study is the first of its kind to integrate an innovative, community-approved, smartphone-based app into a randomized clinical trial to improve the overall heart health of African Americans,” says LaPrincess Brewer, MD, preventive cardiologist at Mayo Clinic and Principal Investigator. of the study. “Our results are promising in that they demonstrate the potential of mobile technologies to positively influence hard-to-change health behaviors: diet and physical activity.”
This study was part of a community-based research program called Fostering African American Improvement in Total Health, or FAITH! The faith! The program is an academic-community partnership focused on addressing health disparities, particularly related to heart health in African American communities. Over 100 African American churches in Rochester and the Twin Cities are active in FAITH! Program, which Dr. Brewer has led at Mayo Clinic since 2013. The FAITH! app is a community project, co-designed with the help of FAITH! community partners. The app is currently not available to the public as research continues.
African American churches were recruited to participate through FAITH! Schedule contacts and use citywide advertisements. Participants were recruited through in-person and virtual events hosted by churches, direct referrals from church staff, and through self-referral. When assigning participants to the intervention or control group, randomization was done at the church level rather than at the individual level to hold communities together.
The app-based intervention included:
“As a leader in the faith community, I have found it important to me not only to communicate the benefits of a culturally relevant app, but also to lead by example and experience it for myself” , says McKizzie. “The result was many attendees from our church.”
- Culturally appropriate educational modules addressing stressors and health disparities affecting African Americans; the importance of health equity and self-advocacy in clinical settings; and practical strategies for overcoming barriers to better health, such as heart-healthy recipes based on traditional African-American cuisine.
- Modules focusing on diet, physical activity, smoking, body mass index, blood pressure, cholesterol and glucose from the American Heart Association Life’s Simple Seven.
- Self-monitoring of diet and physical activity.
- A group sharing board.
In addition, churches have used thermometer goal charts to track church-level progress on diet and physical activity goals, encouraging social support for participants and friendly competition with other churches. participants.
Researchers assessed each participant’s average change in mean heart health score on a scale of 0 (poor) to 14 (ideal) from baseline to six months after the intervention. Among participants in the intervention group, average heart health scores increased by nearly two points, compared with less than one point in the control group. Participants in the intervention group also significantly improved key heart health behaviors related to diet and physical activity.
This study builds on previous research that assessed the feasibility of the mobile app intervention, supported the potential benefits of the app, and evaluated app design and content with the help of focus groups. community discussions.
Importance of collaborating with religious communities
According to Christi Patten, Ph.D., Mayo Clinic psychologist and lead author, this study not only demonstrates the effectiveness of the app, but also highlights the value of relationships and collaborations between researchers and communities to create collectively effective and culturally relevant results. digital interventions to improve heart health.
Rev. Daniel McKizzie, pastor of New Creation Baptist Church in Minneapolis, agrees, expressing his appreciation for the opportunity for his church to participate in FAITH! clinical trial of the app.
The researchers indicate that the next steps in their research will be to assess the usefulness and effectiveness of FAITH! application in clinical care and health system settings. The study team is examining application in federally licensed health centers to improve the management of hypertension in African American patients.
This research was supported by National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities Grant 1 R21MD013490-01, Clinical and Translational Sciences Award Grant UL1 TR000135, and National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences, Mayo Clinic’s Center for Health Equity and Community Engagement Research, American Heart Association Amos Medical School Development Program Grant 19AMFDP35040005, and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A team of FAITH community partners contributed to this work.
The authors report no conflict of interest.
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