The Effect of Changes in Health Beliefs Among African-American and Rural White Church Congregants Enrolled in an Obesity Intervention: A Qualitative Evaluation

Diane J. Martinez, Monique M. Turner, Mandi Pratt-Chapman, Kanako Kashima, Margaret K. Hargreaves, Mark B. Dignan, James R. Hébert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Church interventions can reduce obesity disparities by empowering participants with knowledge and skills within an established community. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the Biomedical/Obesity Reduction Trial (BMORe) and investigate changes in health beliefs among obese adult participants. Ten pre-/post-intervention focus groups applying the Health Belief Model conducted in two African-American churches in Tennessee (n = 20) and South Carolina (n = 20), and one rural Appalachian church in Kentucky (n = 21). Two independent coders using NVivo analyzed transcribed audio data and notes. Participants’ health status of being overweight/obese and having comorbidities of diabetes and high blood pressure motivated enrollment in BMORe. Initially participants voiced low self-efficacy in cooking healthy and reading food labels. BMORe made participants feel “empowered” after 12 weeks compared to initially feeling “out of control” with their weight. Participants reported improvements in emotional health, quality of life, and fewer medications. During post-intervention focus groups, participants reported increased self-efficacy through family support, sharing healthy eating strategies, and having accountability partners. Solidarity and common understanding among BMORe participants led focus group attendees to comment how their peers motivated them to stay in the program for 12 weeks. Long-term barriers include keeping the weight off by maintaining habits of exercise and healthy eating. Implementation of pre-/post-intervention focus groups is an innovative approach to evaluate an obesity intervention and track how changes in health beliefs facilitated behavior change. This novel approach shows promise for behavioral interventions that rely on participant engagement for sustained effectiveness.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)518-525
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Community Health
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 1 2016

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The project described was supported by Grant Number U01CA116937-05S3 and CNPC supplemental Award Number 3U54CA153708-03S2 from the National Cancer Institute. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Cancer Institute or the National Institutes of Health. The authors are indebted to focus group facilitators and implementation staff, Mark Cromo, Lisa Davis, Ruby Drayton, Saudat Fadeyi, Donna Kenerson, Melissa Slone, and Zudi-Mwak Takizala; and church leadership Rev. George Brooks, Rev. Leatha Brown, and Rev. Adam Feltner.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015, Springer Science+Business Media New York.


  • African-Americans
  • Health knowledge, attitudes, practice
  • Obesity
  • Rural health

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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