Black Family Reunions Targeted With Health, Disease Prevention Awareness Messages

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Black family reunions are becoming a platform in which to promote disease prevention and healthy living, and the trend is supported by some of the nation's leading health agencies and advocacy groups, the Washington Post reports. Blacks have higher rates of several chronic illnesses and diseases, such as hypertension, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and HIV/AIDS, than other groups.

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According to the Post, many black family reunions are including health information sessions and materials, fitness activities, screenings, family medical tree projects, healthier food options and other efforts that seek to improve health and awareness. In addition, the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases last year launched its Family Reunion Initiative, which seeks to educate blacks about their increased risks for diabetes, hypertension and kidney disease. In July, the American Stroke Association began its "Power to End Stroke" campaign, which supplies family reunions with a tool kit geared toward blacks.

"Some hope more health talk at family reunions will encourage more regular doctors' visits and point those without health insurance to free or low-cost resources ... they may not have known about; it may also lead them to seek help from a family member in the medical profession," the Post reports. Pat Lane, a registered nurse and stroke program management coordinator at Virginia-based Inova Fairfax Hospital, said, "You've got a captive audience [at family reunions]. It's the perfect time to send positive health messages, be a role model [and] educate" (Brophy Marcus, Washington Post, 8/28).

Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, search the archives. The Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. 2007 Advisory Board Company and Kaiser Family Foundation. All rights reserved.

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