12-​​week inter­ven­tion to pro­mote long-​​lasting behavior change with unique model

Heart dis­ease is con­sid­ered to be the number one killer among women, and older adult black women are espe­cially vul­ner­able. North­eastern Uni­ver­sity nursing pro­fessor Eliz­a­beth Howard believes that a health pro­mo­tion inter­ven­tion is the key to changing health behav­iors, reducing car­dio­vas­cular dis­ease risk, and pos­i­tively impacting health out­comes. She is con­ducting a research project with this par­tic­ular pop­u­la­tion to test this hypothesis.

The goal of this 12-​​week inter­ven­tion is to assist older adult black women in an urban envi­ron­ment to adopt a pro­gram of reg­ular phys­ical activity,” said Howard, PhD, RN, CS-​​ACNP, Asso­ciate Pro­fessor of Nursing at Northeastern’s Bouve Col­lege of Health Sci­ences. “This is a pop­u­la­tion with a higher inci­dence of car­dio­vas­cular dis­ease and hyper­ten­sion and gen­er­ally has lim­ited access to appro­priate health­care. This lifestyle change should result in improved health status, phys­ical per­for­mance, per­ceived health status and depression.”

Howard’s study group is part of a faith-​​based com­mu­nity; all 20 women (between the ages of 54 and 92) are mem­bers of the People’s Bap­tist Church in Rox­bury, Massachusetts.

This study applies the Information-​​Motivation-​​Behavioral Skills (IMB) Model, a unique, mul­ti­di­men­sional approach, orig­i­nally devel­oped to pro­mote health behavior change in HIV/​AIDS patients. The three com­po­nents: infor­ma­tion; moti­va­tion; and behavior are fun­da­mental deter­mi­nants of risk reduc­tion for sev­eral other health issues in var­ious pop­u­la­tions – including car­dio­vas­cular dis­ease in older black women – and Howard’s study incor­po­rates these three ele­ments as part of her intervention.

As part of the infor­ma­tion com­po­nent, par­tic­i­pants receive edu­ca­tional mate­rials about the impor­tance of exer­cise, the phys­i­ology of the car­dio­vas­cular system, and the influ­ence of exer­cise on health status. The moti­va­tion por­tion will entail strate­gies to develop and main­tain a pat­tern a reg­ular phys­ical activity. Under the behav­ioral skills com­po­nent, the group receives weekly instruc­tions, review and eval­u­a­tion (through repeat demon­stra­tions) of phys­ical activ­i­ties and exer­cises that cover the areas of strength, bal­ance, flex­i­bility and endurance.

Howard and her team hope that the post-​​intervention data, to be col­lected six months after com­ple­tion of the inter­ven­tion, will show increased phys­ical per­for­mance and pos­i­tive health outcomes.

The study is funded by the North­eastern Uni­ver­sity Provost’s ENHANCE Pro­gram. The pro­gram pro­vides funds to sup­port new ven­tures in research and schol­ar­ship by tenured fac­ulty from all aca­d­emic dis­ci­plines for pre­lim­i­nary work that will stim­u­late exem­plary schol­ar­ship or will result in one or more pro­posals being sub­mitted to extra­mural funding agencies.

For more infor­ma­tion on Pro­fessor Howard’s inter­ven­tion study and related research, please con­tact Renata Nyul at 617–373-7424 or at r.​nyul@​neu.​edu.

About North­eastern

Founded in 1898, North­eastern Uni­ver­sity is a pri­vate research uni­ver­sity located in the heart of Boston. North­eastern is a leader in inter­dis­ci­pli­nary research, urban engage­ment, and the inte­gra­tion of class­room learning with real-​​world expe­ri­ence. The university’s dis­tinc­tive coop­er­a­tive edu­ca­tion pro­gram, where stu­dents alter­nate semes­ters of full-​​time study with semes­ters of paid work in fields rel­e­vant to their pro­fes­sional inter­ests and major, is one of the largest and most inno­v­a­tive in the world. The Uni­ver­sity offers a com­pre­hen­sive range of under­grad­uate and grad­uate pro­grams leading to degrees through the doc­torate in six under­grad­uate col­leges, eight grad­uate schools, and two part-​​time divi­sions. For more infor­ma­tion, please visit www​.north​eastern​.edu.