Minority Research: African American Population

Correlates of physical activity levels in a sample of urban African Americans with type 2 diabetes.

Pearte CA, Gary TL, Brancati FL.  Ethn Dis. 2004 Spring;14(2):198-205.
Comment in: Ethn Dis. 2004 Spring;14(2):185-8.

BACKGROUND: Although regular physical activity is recommended for all adults and is vital in the management of diabetes, activity levels among African Americans with diabetes continue to be sub-optimal. The factors influencing physical activity in this group have not been well examined.

RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS: Physical activity levels were assessed in 186 African Americans with type 2 diabetes in an urban inner-city community in 4 daily domains; leisure-time physical activity, episodic vigorous activity, blocks walked, and stairs climbed. Linear and logistic regression techniques were used to identify factors independently associated with physical activity levels.

RESULTS: A minority of both men (40%) and women (29%) reported engaging in regular physical activity for the purpose of exercise. Women walked significantly fewer blocks/week compared to men (17 vs 41, P < .05). Independent predictors of low physical activity were obesity, lower household income, and the self-perception of being more active than one’s counterparts. A predictor of higher physical activity was the perception of needing to get enough exercise to keep healthy. There was no association between physical activity level and other characteristics, including the perception of oneself as overweight or trying to lose weight.

CONCLUSIONS: These data suggest that, among our sample of African Americans with diabetes, many do not engage in regular activity, women walk significantly less than men, and weight loss efforts may not commonly include physical activity. Obesity, lower income level, and confidence about activity levels may identify individuals with lower physical activity levels. These data should be useful for developing targeted and culturally appropriate interventions to promote physical activity in this high-risk community.


Exercise training for African Americans with disabilities residing in difficult social environments.

Rimmer JH, Nicola T, Riley B, Creviston T.  Am J Prev Med. 2002 Nov;23(4):290-5.
OBJECTIVE: To examine the feasibility, efficacy, and safety of a structured 12-week exercise training program for a predominantly African-American group of adults with multiple health conditions who reside in difficult social environments.

METHODS: A total of 37 females and 7 males (mean age, 54.1 years) participated in an exercise training regimen 3 days per week for 60 minutes per day (cardiovascular, 30 minutes; strength, 20 minutes; and flexibility, 10 minutes). Outcome measures included peak VO(2) (mL min(-1), mL kg(-1) min(-1)); upper and lower body strength (strength); hand-grip strength (GS); body weight (BW); total skin folds (TS); waist-to-hip ratio (WHR); hamstring/low-back flexibility (HLBF); and shoulder flexibility (SF).

RESULTS: Compared to the control group, the exercise group showed significant gains in peak VO(2) (p < 0.01); strength (p < 0.01); and body composition (TS, p < 0.01). There was no significant difference between the exercise and control groups on BW, WHR, HLBF, and GS. Of a total 1116 exercise sessions (31 experimental participants x 36 sessions), 87% of the sessions were attended.

CONCLUSIONS: A structured exercise-training program can provide substantial improvement in strength and cardiovascular fitness in low-income, sedentary adults with multiple chronic conditions and/or risk factors for chronic conditions. Future research should explore simple home-based and community-based physical activity interventions that provide ongoing support for increasing and maintaining physical activity participation in this cohort.


Mental health services for African Americans: a cultural/racial perspective.

Dana RH.  Regional Research Institute, Portland State University, 1912 SW 6th Avenue, Suite 120, Portland, Oregon 97201, USA. rolana@pdx.edu  Cultur Divers Ethnic Minor Psychol. 2002 Feb;8(1):3-18.

African Americans have made consistent progress toward first-class citizenship since 1965. Nonetheless, mental health services for this population have been biased, incomplete, and deficient because similarities to European Americans have been emphasized whereas differences were largely ignored. This article addresses some differences, including cultural/racial identity and the cultural self, that affect assessment, psychiatric diagnoses, and psychotherapy or other interventions. An assessment-intervention model illustrates how cultural information can inform service delivery and improve services to African Americans. Cultural/racial perspectives on mental health in a multicultural society suggest innovations in the design of these services and access to them that can increase utilization by African Americans.


Multiple sclerosis characteristics in African American patients in the New York State Multiple Sclerosis Consortium.

Weinstock-Guttman B, Jacobs LD, Brownscheidle CM, Baier M, Rea DF, Apatoff BR, Blitz KM, Coyle PK, Frontera AT, Goodman AD, Gottesman MH, Herbert J, Holub R, Lava NS, Lenihan M, Lusins J, Mihai C, Miller AE, Perel AB, Snyder DH, Bakshi R, Granger CV, Greenberg SJ, Jubelt B, Krupp L, Munschauer FE, Rubin D, Schwid S, Smiroldo J; New York State Multiple Sclerosis Consortium.  William C. Baird Multiple Sclerosis Research Center, The Jacobs Neurological Institute, Buffalo, NY 14203, USA. BWeinstock-Guttman@KaleidaHealth.org  Mult Scler. 2003 Jun;9(3):293-8.

The objective of this study was to determine the clinical characteristics of multiple sclerosis (MS) in African American (AA) patients in the New York State Multiple Sclerosis Consortium (NYSMSC) patient registry. The NYSMSC is a group of 18 MS centers throughout New York State organized to prospectively assess clinical characteristics of MS patients. AAs comprise 6% (329) of the total NYSMSC registrants (5602). Demographics, disease course, therapy, and socioeconomic status were compared in AA registrants versus nonAfrican Americans (NAA). There was an increased female preponderance and a significantly younger age at diagnosis in the AA group. AA patients were more likely to have greater disability with increased disease duration. No differences were seen in types of MS and use of disease modifying therapies. Our findings suggest a racial influence in MS. Further genetic studies that consider race differences are warranted to elucidate mechanisms of disease susceptibility.

“Older blacks face higher disability risk, UF study shows” University of Florida News Monday, June 11, 2001, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611; (352) 392-3261.

A University of Florida study shows that older black Americans face a higher risk of disabilities than their Latino and white counterparts.



“Pilot study finds poorer outcomes for African-Americans with rheumatoid arthritis:  Arthritis and resulting disabilities appear worse in African-Americans”

By: Michael Purdy July 11, 2005

This article states that a pilot study comparing the results of treatment for rheumatoid arthritis in African-Americans and Caucasians has revealed that African-Americans are more likely to suffer pain and disability from the disorder.



“Poor Neighborhood Conditions Triple Risk for Disabilities, Researchers Find”

Public Health News, 02 Mar 2006

A comparison of residential areas in the St. Louis region revealed that late middle-aged and older African-Americans who live in rundown neighborhoods with poor air and street quality are three times more likely to develop difficulties walking, standing or lifting than those in cleaner, better-maintained areas.