In the U.S. there is a higher prevalence of cardiovascular disease in minority communities, and in particular African American (AA) communities, than white communities. Additionally, being overweight or obese has been scientifically linked to increased risk for cardiovascular disease (CVD). African Americans tend to weigh more, on average, than whites and other minorities groups and therefore are at increased risk for developing CVD. A healthy diet composed of high fiber foods, such as fruit and vegetables, has been shown (along with physical activity) to help manage weight and, thereby, decrease risk for CVD. Research has shown that environmental, socio-cultural and psychological factors can affect diet. Given that Kentucky has the second highest prevalence rate of CVD in the nation, current prevention efforts in African American communities need to be adapted to the culture, geography, and individual beliefs of the population. This study proposes a multi-level investigation of environmental, community, and individual level correlates of fruit and vegetable (F&V) consumption in two Kentucky cities with large African American populations - Louisville and Hopkinsville. Our transdisciplinary approach, which leverages data collection and analysis techniques from sociology, communication, public health, and marketing, is grounded in the social-ecological model. As such, our aims for this study include: 1) identifying, documenting and exploring environmental, community, familial, and intrapersonal-level determinants of F&V consumption, 2) implementing a cross- sectional quantitative assessment based on data uncovered in Aim 1 to identify important audience segments and salient predictors of each segment, and 3) designing a tailored intervention to positively impact F&V consumption in West Louisville and Hopkinsville. To achieve Aim 1, we will use an innovative combination of participatory inquiry (e.g., transect walks) and in- depth interviews, interviewing 20 individuals in each city (N=40). Knowledge gained from these research activities will then be used to address Aim 2 and inform the development of the cross-sectional survey, which will be collected from 150 individuals in each city (N = 300). These data will be used to identify important segments of the African American audiences in each city. Finally, intervention design options will be tested using an approach borrowed from commercial marketing- Adaptive Conjoint Analysis (ACA). In the private- sector, ACA is often deemed superior to focus group testing because it allows product/campaign designers to understand the relative importance of various product (or intervention) attributes. This study will be the first translation of ACA to a public health intervention development context.

Public Health Relevance

The prevalence of cardiovascular disease (CVD) is higher in African Americans (AA) than other American populations. Therefore, we need to better understand how the environment, culture, family and intrapersonal factors combine to impact behavior related to lessened cardiovascular disease risk - specifically, increased fruit and vegetable (F&V) consumption. To that end, the main purpose of this project is to use a formative research approach that incorporates participatory and qualitative research methods from sociology, conceptual underpinnings from a cultural communication perspective, and an intervention design method that borrows an analytic technique used by market researchers in the private sector in order to design a culturally congruent intervention to positively affect fruit and vegetable consumption among African American Kentuckians.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI)
Exploratory/Developmental Grants (R21)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
Health Disparities and Equity Promotion Study Section (HDEP)
Program Officer
Boyington, Josephine
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
University of Louisville
Schools of Arts and Sciences
United States
Zip Code
Smith, Siobhan E; Della, Lindsay J; Rajack-Talley, Theresa et al. (2013) Exploring Media's Impact on African-American Women's Healthy Food Habits in Kentucky. J Intercult Commun Res 42:228-251