Favorable Outcomes Using an eHealth Approach to Promote Physical Activity and Nutrition Among Young African American Women

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Abstract

Background:

Internet and mobile devices are widely used and provide alternative approaches for promoting healthy lifestyles, yet less information is available describing outcomes of these approaches when used with young African American (AA) women at risk for developing hypertension.

Objective:

In this study, we evaluated a Web-based, culturally relevant lifestyle change intervention targeting AA women (referred to as the eHealth study).

Methods:

African American women, aged 18 to 45 years, with untreated prehypertension and Internet access were eligible for a 12-week study that incorporated social cognitive theory strategies. Participants were randomized to (1) lifestyle physical activity (PA) or (2) Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) online education modules.

Results:

The 14 DASH and 12 PA participant attributes were similar at baseline. The DASH participants had a significant change in total DASH score (P = .001) and large effect sizes for DASH components (vegetables, 0.84; nonfat dairy, 0.71; fruit, 0.62). The PA participants had a favorable change (+39%) in pedometer steps (P = .055). With respect to weight change, a large effect size was observed for PA (0.84) and smaller for DASH participants (0.18). Seventy-one percent of DASH and 48% of PA participants completed program activities, corresponding to a moderate difference in program engagement between groups (d = 0.58).

Conclusion:

Our eHealth platform provides an alternative approach for reaching young AA women and was successful with respect to improving PA and dietary behaviors. Furthermore, the eHealth approach has the potential as a powerful program for changing health behaviors for other at-risk populations.

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