Journal of Religion and Health

, Volume 56, Issue 1, pp 320–328 | Cite as

Evaluation of HeartSmarts, a Faith-Based Cardiovascular Health Education Program

  • Naa-Solo TetteyEmail author
  • Pedro A. Duran
  • Holly S. Andersen
  • Carla Boutin-Foster
Original Paper


In order to effectively address cardiovascular disease among African Americans, evidence-based health information must be disseminated within a context aligned with the values and beliefs of the population. Faith-based organizations play a critical role in meeting the religious and spiritual needs of many African Americans. Additionally, faith-based organizations can be effective in health promotion. A manual was created by incorporating biblical scriptures relating to health messages drawn from existing health manuals oriented toward African Americans. Lay health educators active in their churches participated in a 12-week training to learn the basics of cardiovascular disease and methods for delivering the program to their congregations’ members. After the completion of the training, these lay health educators recruited participants from their respective churches and administered their own 12-week HeartSmarts program. Measurements of participants’ systolic and diastolic blood pressure (mmHg), height (in.), weight (lbs.), and waist circumference (in.) were taken, and cardiovascular disease knowledge assessments (based on 20 open-ended questions) were administered at the start and end of the 12-week programs. Fourteen predominantly African American churches in NYC participated. Of the 221 participants, 199 completed the program. There were significant reductions in pretest and posttest total participant averages for systolic BP (4.48 mmHg, p < 0.001), diastolic BP (3.38 mmHg, p < 0.001), weight (3lbs., p = 0.001), and BMI (0.46, p = 0.001). Cardiovascular disease health assessment scores had an average increase of 12.74 correct responses (p < 0.001). The HeartSmarts program may be an effective ecumenical and cultural model for disseminating health messages and reducing cardiovascular risk among African Americans.


Cardiovascular disease Health education Community Faith-based organizations 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

All authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

This article does not contain any studies with human participants performed by any of the authors.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Ronald O. Perelman Heart InstituteNew York-Presbyterian Hospital, Perelman Heart Institute/Weill Cornell Medical CenterNew YorkUSA
  2. 2.Weill Cornell Medical College in New YorkNew YorkUSA
  3. 3.Comprehensive Center of Excellence in Disparities Research and Community Engagement (CEDREC)Weill Cornell Medical CollegeNew YorkUSA

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