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  The Minority/ Black Health Blog  

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Study Says Going to Church Helps African-Americans Lower Their High Blood Pressure

African-American churchgoers

In the past few years, the church has turned out to be effective in promoting health information to African Americans regarding cancer screening, vaccinations, HIV awareness, and weight reduction. Additionally, a recent study found that the church can also help African-American churchgoers manage hypertension.
A study published in October in the journal Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes, discovered that when lay health advisers administer lifestyle interventions in church, it delivers a more effective reduction of blood pressure among African Americans than with just health experts.

"African-Americans have a significantly greater burden of hypertension and heart disease, and our findings prove that people with uncontrolled hypertension can, indeed, better manage their blood pressure through programs administered in places of worship," said Dr. Gbenga Ogedegbe, MD, MPH, a professor in the departments of medicine and population health at New York University’s Langone Medical Center, who is one of the researchers.

The study revolved around 373 African-American men and women from 32 New York City churches that are diagnosed with hypertension. They were divided into two groups to undergo different approach of health intervention.

Half of the group went through group sessions and motivational interviewing sessions from community-based or lay health advisers. They talk about particular healthy behaviors and incorporate Bible passages and prayers into faith-based discussions.

"It was something they could relate to, it was in sync with their values, so they received it well," Ogedegbe said.

The other group received sessions on lifestyle and hypertension management as well as other health topics that were led solely by health experts.

After three months doing the experiment, the group that had the church-based intervention had 5.8 millimeters of mercury (mmHg) greater reduction in systolic blood pressure compared to the group that only received health education.

Moreover, Ogedegbe noted the fact that lifestyle choices and environment also play a significant role in the development and management of hypertension.

"Most low-income minorities have a lot of competing priorities, and can't come into the clinic every week for 12 weeks to improve their blood pressure," he pointed out. But they do find time to attend church and church group meetings.
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