Building a Healthy Temple: A Faith-based Program for the Primary Prevention of Cancer Among Hispanic Adults




Wilmoth, Summer Rose

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Cancer is the number one killer among Hispanics. Poor diet, physical inactivity and obesity are preventable cancer risk factors that disproportionally affect this population. Cancer prevention programing for the underserved Hispanics should go beyond the traditional health education. Since the majority of Hispanics are members of faith communities, churches present a setting for cancer prevention programing. Body and Soul (B&S), an evidence-based cancer prevention program, shows potential for adaptation into Hispanic faith-settings.

Applying a systematic translational science framework, “Building a Healthy Temple” (BHT) was adapted from B&S for implementation in Hispanic churches. BHT was a 6-month multiple-component intervention implemented by trained lay health leaders from participating churches and consisting of: Health Ministry Committee formation, church health-conducive environment/policy changes, Health Sermon (s), Health Bible Study, Nutrition Education, Active Living, and Peer-Counseling.

BHT’s impact was assessed using a one group, pre-post design with repeated measures at baseline, end of program, and six months post-intervention. Measurements were taken at both the congregation and individual level. Friedman test and Wilcoxon signed-rank tests were used to analyze changes in church (n = 10) health-conducive environment/policy. Linear mixed models and generalized linear mixed models were performed for continuous variables and dichotomous variables, respectively and were used to analyze individual (n = 489) diet, physical activity (PA), and obesity-related outcomes.

BHT was adopted by18 churches and reached 4,360 adult attendees, majority Hispanic females. Reach varied by program component. A total of 489 adult attendees participated in evaluation. BHT resulted in significant improvements to: church nutrition and PA environment/policy; individuals’ frequency of fruit vegetable and legume consumption; intake of total added sugar and added sugar from beverages; weekly physical activity (PA) amount and frequency; proportion of participants meeting PA guidelines; body weight (BW); and waist circumference (WC). Six months post-intervention, improvements were sustained for the following: church nutrition and physical activity environment/policy; individuals’ WC, intake of total added sugar and added sugar from beverages; and the proportion of participants meeting PA guidelines.

In conclusion, BHT was effective in promoting a healthy lifestyle and healthy body weight. The program has potential to be expanded in Hispanic faith-community settings for the primary prevention of cancers.


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Faith-based, Hispanics, Lifestyle Modification, Obesity Prevention, Primary Prevention of Cancers, Religion/Spirituality



Health and Kinesiology