Academic journal article ABNF Journal

Health Promoting Behaviors of Urban African American Female Heads of Household

Academic journal article ABNF Journal

Health Promoting Behaviors of Urban African American Female Heads of Household

Article excerpt

Abstract: Nurse practitioners' understanding of the health status and health promoting behavior of African American women is only in its infancy. This study utilized the Health Promoting Lifestyle Profile to examine these behaviors in 198 females (73% African American) in an urban setting who were heads of household. The purpose was to identify their health promoting lifestyles. Such knowledge could be the basis for health promotion programs to meet the needs of these women. Findings revealed that being head of household had no significant relationship to health promoting behavior. Religiosity and education were positively associated with health promoting behavior, while smoking and ethnic background were inversely correlated. Age and marital status also influenced specific health promoting behaviors. Implications for development of programs to foster involvement of African American women in health promotion programs were presented.

Key Words: Health Promoting Behavior; African American Females; Female Heads of Households; Urban African American Women

The idea of health promotion has been a fundamental concept in public health for decades. Health-promoting lifestyles have considerable potential for increasing longevity, improving the quality of life, and reducing health care cost (Niblet, 1975). With this philosophy, the National Institute of Health for Women's Health Research was established in 1990 with a mandate to strengthen and enhance prevention, diagnosis and treatment of illness in women, and to enhance research related to diseases and conditions that affect women. While health issues of all women are in need of research, there is even a greater need for such among African American women. African American women are at increased risk for developing many preventable diseases and have higher rates of morbidity and mortality for many diseases. For instance, they have a lower life expectancy than Caucasian women do (Foster, 1992) and are also more likely than Caucasian women to die from heart disease and stroke (Go, 1994).

Research has only begun to address the health status and health promoting behaviors of African American women.

Several studies have used the Health Promotion Lifestyle Profile to assess health promotion and disease prevention in minority populations (Ahijevych, 1994; Foster, 1992; Frank, Stevens, & Hughs, 1998; Hargove & Keller, 1992; Wilson & Ford, 1992). Findings from these investigations suggest that eating nutritional food and prayer are considered health promotion behaviors in African American women (Hargrove & Keller, 1993). Practicing health promotion behavior has been associated with a higher level of life satisfaction (Foster, 1992; Frank et al., 1998) and a lower level of smoking (Ahijevych, 1994). Additionally, smoking has been inversely associated with African American women participating in breast cancer screening (Brown, 1997).

Efforts to improve the health status of African American women were addressed at the annual National Conference on Black Women Issues. The first meeting in 1993 signaled to millions of African American women that their health status was in crisis, but more importantly, that the solutions were within their own power (Braithwaite & Taylor, 1992). Conference recommendations promoted organizing local community groups to prevent disease and promote health in this population. Also, in 1991, the Black Women's Agenda fourteenth annual workshop on Black Women in Crisis focused on the effects of HIV/AIDS on African American women and children. It stressed the need to empower African American women to create positive changes in their sexual behavior to stop the AIDS epidemic.

If nurse practitioners, who provide primary care, are to be effective in assisting African American women to increase health-promoting behavior, NP's must have an understanding of women's health-related beliefs, knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors. …

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