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Prevalent Health Concerns Among African American Women Belonging to a National Volunteer Service Organization (The Links, Incorporated)



African American women bear a disproportionate burden of cardiovascular disease (CVD) and cancer. The purpose of this study was to identify prevalent health concerns among African American women who are members of The Links, Incorporated (Links), a large national service organization with health programming for communities of color.


Survey data (n = 391) were collected during the 2012 Links National Assembly. Twenty-six health issues were presented within five groups: cancer, CVD, pulmonary disease, chronic conditions, and behavioral health. For each issue, women indicated if it was a concern for “you/your family” or “the African American community” via check-boxes. Differences in the proportions for “you/your family” and “the African American community” were evaluated using the McNemar test.


Hypertension was the most frequently endorsed concern for you/your family (79 %); 73 % indicated this was a concern for the African American community. Sickle cell anemia was the most frequently endorsed concern for the African American community (77 %). Melanoma was the least endorsed health issue overall (15 % you/your family, 55 % community). Breast was the most frequently endorsed cancer concern, while lung was among the least. For 23 out of 26 health issues, the proportion concerned was greater for the “African American community” than for “you/your family” (all p < 0.05).


CVD and breast cancer were salient concerns; both are topics for which national awareness campaigns and Links health programming exist. Comparatively lower concern was observed for melanoma, a cancer with known survival disparities, and for lung cancer, a leading cause of death in women.

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The research presented in this paper is that of the authors and does not reflect the official policy of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Financial support for this research was provided by the Mayo Clinic Office of Health Disparities Research (OHDR) and by the NIH (R21 CA191028) awarded to Drs. Radecki Breitkopf and Williams (MPIs) (IRB #12-003252). No financial disclosures were reported by the authors of this paper. Dr. Radecki Breitkopf had full access to all the data in the study and takes responsibility for the integrity of the data. She analyzed the data with Mr. Bondaryk and drafted the manuscript with Dr. Asiedu. Drs. Hayes, Williams, Halyard, Parker, Balls-Berry, and Pinn contributed to the data collection and provided organizational knowledge and content expertise for this work. All authors contributed to the writing of the final manuscript. The results of this study were presented at the 22nd Annual Women’s Health Congress (April 4–6, 2014) in Washington, DC.

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Correspondence to Carmen Radecki Breitkopf.

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All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the Mayo Clinic Institutional Review Board and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

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The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

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Asiedu, G.B., Hayes, S.N., Williams, K.P. et al. Prevalent Health Concerns Among African American Women Belonging to a National Volunteer Service Organization (The Links, Incorporated). J. Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities 4, 19–24 (2017).

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