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Mobile Health Technology Can Objectively Capture Physical Activity (PA) Targets Among African-American Women Within Resource-Limited Communities—the Washington, D.C. Cardiovascular Health and Needs Assessment

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Little is understood about using mobile health (mHealth) technology to improve cardiovascular (CV) health among African-American women in resource-limited communities.


We conducted the Washington, D.C. CV Health and Needs Assessment in predominantly African-American churches in city wards 5, 7, and 8 with the lowest socioeconomic status based on community-based participatory research (CBPR) principles. The assessment measured CV health factors: body mass index (BMI), fasting blood glucose and cholesterol, blood pressure, fruit/vegetable (F/V) intake, physical activity (PA), and smoking. Participants were trained to use a PA monitoring wristband to measure 30 days of PA, wirelessly upload the PA data to hubs at the participating churches, and access their data from a church/home computer. CV health factors were compared across weight classes.


Among females (N = 78; 99 % African-American; mean age = 59 years), 90 % had a BMI categorized as overweight/obese. Across weight classes, PA decreased and self-reported sedentary time (ST) increased (p ≤ 0.05). Diastolic blood pressure and glucose increased across weight classes (p ≤ 0.05); however, cholesterol, glucose, and BP were near intermediate CV health goals.


Decreased PA and increased ST are potential community intervention targets for overweight and obese African-American women in resource-limited Washington D.C. areas. mHealth technology can assist in adapting CBPR intervention resources to improve PA for African-American women in resource-limited communities.

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We would like to acknowledge the participating church communities for warmly welcoming our research team and providing feedback from preliminary stages. Additionally, we acknowledge the D.C. CHOC for their contribution, as without their insightful recommendation, this project would not have come to fruition. Funding for TP-W, LY, and VM is provided through the Division of Intramural Research of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Funding for CA is provided through a professional services contract (contract #HHSN268201300173P) through the Division of Intramural Research of NHLBI at NIH. Funding for ST and JA-B is provided through the Office of Intramural Training and Education of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Funding for GW and AT-B is provided through the Clinical Center, NIH. Funding for MP-L is provided through Division of Intramural Research - Hematology Branch, National Heart Lung and Blood Institute, NIH. Funding for DS is provided through the Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (OBSSR) of the Office of the Director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). We would also like to acknowledge the work on this project by Mr. Praduman Jain and colleagues from Vignet Corporation through use of their Precision Medicine Initiative (PMI) toolkit under contract #HHSN268201400023P. The PMI toolkit enables custom mHealth programs for data collection, population, surveillance, interactive informed consent, assessments, remote monitoring, CBPR, consumer engagement, interventions, motivations, and behavior change. The views expressed in this manuscript are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute; the National Institutes of Health; or the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

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Correspondence to T. M. Powell-Wiley.

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All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

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All authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


This study was funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (grant number ZIA HL006168).

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Thomas, S., Yingling, L., Adu-Brimpong, J. et al. Mobile Health Technology Can Objectively Capture Physical Activity (PA) Targets Among African-American Women Within Resource-Limited Communities—the Washington, D.C. Cardiovascular Health and Needs Assessment. J. Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities 4, 876–883 (2017).

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