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The Center for Research on Men’s Health is currently engaged in projects involving behavioral, social and other factors that affect men’s health. 

Current Projects

Mighty Men is a 6-month faith-based weight-loss intervention for obese African American men 35-74 years old. This project aims to use tailored goals and messages alongside self-monitoring techniques and small group training and community resources to increase perceived efficacy and encourage healthy behavior changes. The main goal of this study is to produce and maintain weight loss by focusing on increasing physical activity level and healthy eating among participating men.

Our intervention content and focus represents a novel strategy to promote health equity by using technology-based health care innovations to improve healthy eating and active living and encourage tobacco cessation by addressing a root cause of unhealthy behavior in men: notions of manhood. We focus on gender and manhood because they are underexplored factors that shape men’s health behaviors. Specifically, we will (1) use qualitative and quantitative methods to develop and refine gendered survey items that will be used in individually-tailored health communications that focus on manhood; (2) use a cross-sectional survey to test the associations between the survey items and tobacco cessation, eating practices, physical activity and key mediators (e.g., motivation, self-efficacy and social support); and (3) conduct individual interviews to test the accuracy of the health communications profiles that will be used to individually-tailor intervention materials. The focus of this research is consistent with NIH priority areas of health care innovations, health care equity, healthy eating, active living and tobacco cessation. Furthermore, this study can be generalized to other racial and ethnic groups of men. 

Given their high rates of premature mortality from chronic diseases there is a need to improve African American men’s health by increasing healthy eating and physical activity.  Our study represents a novel strategy to improve healthy eating and active living by understanding and addressing how gender and manhood shape African American men’s eating practices and physical activity. Specifically, we will (1) refine and test the content of gendered messages that will be used in individually-tailored health communications interventions for 35-74 year old African American men; (2) explore how motivation, self-efficacy and information can be optimally increased through a technology-based delivery system (e.g., website, SMS text messaging, social media); and (3) pilot this tailoring system with a small group of African American men.  This project is no longer recruiting participants.

The Tennessee Men's Health Report Card provides a snapshot of the current health of men in Tennessee and presents data on differences in health outcomes among men by race and ethnicity. This includes information on leading causes of death, age-specific causes of death, disease prevalence throughout the state, cases of infectious disease, factors that influence health and health behaviors.

OHD PRIDE is a research training and mentoring program for early career faculty from underrepresented groups who have appointments at or are graduates of Historically Black Colleges and Universities. 

Compared to other groups in the United States, African-American men are more likely to have high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease, which increase the risks for early death, stroke, other sickness, and poor life quality. African-American males are also less likely to go to the doctor to get medical care and are less likely to have lifestyles that can improve their health. This study will test ways to improve health behaviors using an intervention that has been specially designed for African-American men. The program will provide information on basic health, and healthy eating, physical activity, stress management, and how to get medical care when needed. We are currently recruiting for this study. If you are interested in participating, go to AHB enrollment Page

African American men experience health disparities across a number of preventable chronic diseases, including cardiovascular disease, strokes, obesity, and diabetes. Physical activity (PA) is a modifiable risk factor for these conditions. The few PA promotion studies that have included African American men have resulted in successful short-term behavior change, yet in order for the health benefits of PA to be realized, PA levels must be maintained. In addition, ownership of smartphones and the use of text messaging are highest among African Americans compared to other ethnic groups. There is a need to tailor this intervention towards African American men because they have unique gender role beliefs which influence exercise promotion. There is also increasing recognition of the need for researchers to develop interventions in collaboration with the target population. In this Phase I STTR, we will: (1) conduct multi-method formative research to guide app design and content, (2) produce a functioning app prototype, and (3) conduct usability testing on the prototype for functionality, ease of use, and interest among African American men.

Midlife (45-64 yr) Mexican-American (MA) men are susceptible to future burden from cardiometabolic diseases because of numerous factors, most notably less healthful dietary and physical activity (PA) behaviors coupled with low participation in chronic disease prevention and management efforts. Thus, there is an urgent need to understand how to promote health-enhancing diet and PA behaviors in this understudied group of the population. The objective of this application is to use a mixed-methods approach to inform the development of and pilot test a gendered- and culturally-tailored diet- and PA intervention for cardiometabolic disease prevention among midlife MA men. This objective will be attained by addressing the following specific aims: (1) conduct qualitative research with midlife MA men and their significant others (e.g. spouse, partner, close family member), and key informants (stakeholders from the MA community) to identify: (a) knowledge, perceptions, and behaviors regarding what constitutes healthful diet and PA practices; (b) perceived barriers and enablers of dietary and PA behavior change, (c) proposed strategies to promote dietary and PA behavior change, (d) perceived resources and assets for implementing dietary and PA behavior change interventions, and (e) masculine, cultural, and social identities that interact to influence interest and engagement in healthy lifestyle behaviors; and (2) assess the initial efficacy, feasibility and acceptability of a gender-tailored and culturally-relevant diet and PA behavior change pilot intervention targeting midlife MA men. 

The purpose of this study is to monitor and evaluate (M&E) ACCELERATE!, a healthcare initiative funded by ViiV, a pharmaceutical company that specializes in development of HIV therapies. The ACCELERATE! initiative aims to increase access and retention to high-quality HIV prevention, treatment, and care for black men who have sex with men (MSM) in Baltimore, Maryland and Jackson, Mississippi via grants to support interventions designed and implemented by community-based organizations.


Previous Projects

The purpose of this brief report is to delineate core elements that are associated with historical trauma and its impact on the health and well-being of underserved communities. This report is designed to provide tools to help better understand and cope with the African Americans who have died at the hands of police, particularly since 2012.

African American men develop and die from many diseases associated with unhealthy eating and physical activity at higher rates than white men, white women and African American women. This project explores how gender intersects with race and other factors to influence the behaviors of African American men. Taking these factors into account, we will develop and test messages to promote healthy eating and physical activity among this group of men. This project is no longer recruiting participants.

This project will explore factors that combine in unique ways to create stress among African American men and how this stress contributes to obesity, unhealthy behaviors, chronic disease and premature death. Identifying the sources of stress for African American men may be a key to understanding and addressing their high rates of chronic disease and premature death. This project is no longer recruiting participants. 

On average, men eat fewer fruits and vegetables than women, but men tend to report more leisure-time physical activity than women. This project begins to address the limited research on strategies to increase these behaviors among men by exploring the relationship between gender, fruit and vegetable consumption and physical activity in an online survey. The survey sample includes White, Latino and African American men. This project is no longer recruiting participants. 

When compared with White men, African American men have higher rates of cancers associated with inadequate physical activity. Few gender- and age-appropriate strategies to reduce cancer risk have been developed to increase physical activity among overweight African American men. This pilot project tests a strategy to increase physical activity among overweight African American men at risk for cancer. This project is no longer recruiting participants.

The Jackson Heart Kids Pilot Study will enroll children and grandchildren of African American adults participating in the ongoing Jackson Heart Study in Jackson, MS. This pilot study will enroll 200 children, ages 12-19 and watch these children as they grow into adulthood. This study will not only help confirm that becoming overweight as an adult is a process that begins in childhood and adolescence, but also track patients' health through several life stages. The specific aims of this study are as follows: Consent, recruit, and enroll 200, 12-19 year old offsprings (children and grandchildren) of participants in the Jackson Heart Study; Collect behavioral and psychosocial measures (dietary intake, physical activity, sleep and stress), anthropometric measures (height, weight, and waist circumference), and biologic measures (fasting blood glucose and blood pressure) to estimate the prevalence of specific lifestyle factors which may influence the risk for cardiovascular disease in this cohort; Use the resultant data from this pilot study to determine the feasiblity of, and to estimate the sample size parameters required for an eventual prospective, longitudinal cohort study of African American youth.

African American men have high rates of diabetes, cancer, hypertension, and obesity.  These health problems are related to unhealthy eating and physical inactivity, but few initiatives have been developed for African American men. Men 4 Health is a five-year project that focuses on African American men ages 35 and older who live in Flint and Genesee County. There are two main goals of the Men 4 Health project: learn from men how their lives and communities affect their health and develop an intervention that helps men establish healthier lifestyles that builds on the strengths of their organizations (fraternities, lodges, men's ministries) and families. If successful, this project will provide critical information on how to enhance African American men's health.

 Despite the important contribution increasing physical activity levels may play in reducing chronic disease morbidity and mortality, there is a paucity of interventions and research indicating how to improve physical activity levels in African American men. Men on the Move was a pilot study to increase African American men's levels of physical activity by improving access to age and ability-appropriate, male-focused physical activity opportunities and facilitating access to social support from male peers. Positive results attest to the feasibility of successfully engaging middle-aged and older African American men in a physical activity intervention, and our findings demonstrate the initial efficacy of this intervention approach. More research is needed that includes a more intensive intervention and one that helps motivate men to be physically active outside of the structured, small-group sessions.