The Church Bridge Project: An Academic-Community Perspective of a Church-Based Weight Management Pilot Intervention Among Young Adult African Americans
Background: Churches are effective community partners and settings to address weight management among African Americans. There is limited information on the use of churches to reach young adult populations and church collaborations with primary care clinics.
Objectives: The Church Bridge Project represents a community–academic partnership that presents the recruitment process of a church-based weight management intervention and describes baseline data of participants recruited from churches and primary care providers. We also discuss research contributions, challenges and limitations, study applicability, and practice implications from an academic and community perspective.
Methods: Church leaders were involved in the entire research process. The theory-driven intervention included 12 diabetes prevention program-adapted education and motivational interviewing (MI)-guided sessions. Participants were recruited through primary care providers and church leaders. Demographics, medical and weight history, stage of change for weight loss, social support, and self-efficacy for diet and physical activity, weight, and girth circumferences were measured. Baseline descriptive data were analyzed.
Results: Of 64 potential participants, 42 (65.6%) were enrolled in the study and 16 (25.0%) completed baseline data collection. No participants were recruited through primary care providers. Recruited participants were similar to the target population except for being all obese and mostly female. The mean ± SD age of participants was 34.31 ± 8.86 years with most reporting having more than a high school education (n = 14 [87.5%]), individual yearly income of less than $59,000 (n = 12 [75.0%]), and been married or living with a partner (n = 9 [56.3%]). Most reported a history of hypertension and an immediate family history of diabetes and hypertension. Most participants were classified as class III obesity.
Conclusions: Young adults and primary care providers are difficult to engage in church-based interventions. Church leaders were comfortable with a collaborate model for decision making, but not an empower model. Churches remain a successful method to reach African Americans; however, more research is needed to motivate young adults to participate in health intervention research.