Each year, more than 572,000 Americans die of cancer and approximately a third of these deaths are linked to physical inactivity, poor diet, and excess weight and thus can be prevented. While exact mechanisms have yet to be determined, physical activity (PA) may impact breast and colon cancer risk by promoting weight control or perhaps independently by altering biologic pathways related to such cancers (improving energy metabolism, reducing circulating concentrations of sex hormones and insulin). ACS guidelines emphasize the importance of >150 min/week of moderate-intensity PA in reducing cancer risk. However, most of the U.S. is inactive, with particularly low PA levels found in the South. Low education and income levels in this largely rural area, along with cultural differences regarding PA and barriers (childcare, costs) reported by African Americans (largest racial minority group in U.S., most of whom live in the South and report high rates of inactivity) may limit access to PA information and/or contribute to related cancer disparities. Telehealth interventions can overcome such obstacles by not requiring frequent clinic visits, expensive technology, or literacy and thus may represent a promising approach to promoting PA in the Deep South and extending ongoing community health worker efforts by the Deep South Network for Cancer Control. Most telehealth interventions have relied on staff counseling, but such processes can be automated using an Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system to enhance cost-effectiveness, reach, and potential disseminability. Given our team's past success using IVR systems for self monitoring of HIV risk behaviors and the paucity of research in this area on PA, we adapted the existing IVR system format for PA promotion and cancer risk reduction in the Deep South through extensive formative research (11 focus groups on PA barriers, intervention needs/preferences with Deep South Cancer Control community health advisors and community members from rural and urban AL counties) and now propose to test the resulting Home-based IVR-supported PA (HIP) intervention in a pilot RCT (N=60) with a waitlist control. Study goals are to document willingness to call IVR system, vet newly developed intervention modules addressing the PA barriers identified in focus groups, and beta-test Social Cognitive Theory (SCT) based tailoring algorithms in preparation for an R01-funded fully powered RCT to test the efficacy of the program and eventual dissemination through the Deep South Network for Cancer Control. PA (7-Day PAR, accelerometers), fitness (6MWT), and body weight and composition (% body fat, BIA) will be assessed at baseline and 3 months. Primary aims include assessing the feasibility, acceptability, and preliminary efficacy of the HIP intervention for cancer risk reducton in the Deep South. Secondary aims include exploring arm differences in changes in fitness, body weight/composition, and SCT variables from baseline to 3 months and assessing the relationship between min/week of >moderate intensity PA reported via IVR system vs. accelerometers at 2 time points (7 days before baseline and 3 month assessment).

Public Health Relevance

The proposed study tests the feasibility and acceptability of low cost, high reach Interactive Voice Response system-supported telehealth approaches to increasing physical activity (i.e., an important public health problem) for cancer risk reduction i the Deep South. Such technology-driven intervention strategies can help extend the reach of ongoing community health worker efforts by the Deep South Network for Cancer Control into rural Black Belt communities and address cancer disparities.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Cancer Institute (NCI)
Small Research Grants (R03)
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Patrick, Heather A
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University of Alabama Birmingham
Public Health & Prev Medicine
Schools of Public Health
United States
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