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Health Team

Large-scale NC study aims to better health education for black men

Posted February 24

— African-American men are in many high risk groups for life threatening disease, and many face challenges getting access to care while others simply need better health education.

In a new, large study, men signed up to find which health interventions work best. The goal is to avoid or to manage a long list of threats to their health, which include obesity, stroke, heart disease, hypertension, a fatty liver, cancer and arthritis.

"I'm approaching 60, and I know that things can slowly come up if they aren't already present," said study participant Howard Williams.

Even though Williams, a registered nurse, is a runner and martial artist, he jumped at the chance to join the Active and Healthy Brotherhood program.

The program is the largest study of its kind, hoping to involve 440 African-American men at four study sites in North Carolina, including Durham County.

"So, anyone who is at risk—black men ages 21 and over," said study coordinator Tiffany Williams, who works for Gramercy Group Research.

Tiffany Williams said participants will be randomized into groups, one of which is a control group that will use a self guided health program. These men are part of the study's intervention group.

It begins with a blood draw plus two weeks of wearing an activity monitor. Group sessions and weekly classes follow for 16 weeks.

"Then, that's when men learn hands-on how to change some of those health behaviors," Tiffany Williams said. "So, there's some cooking demonstrations, exercise or physical activity demonstrations. There's also demonstrations on how to manage stress in healthy ways."

The men will receive feedback about their progress, and each man wants the program to make a real difference.

"I am optimistic that it's going to help change my behaviors because it actually has already," said Howard Williams.

He said the group experience alone is motivation to be more focused on lowering health risks and extending life.

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