Brief intervention increased physical activity in African American men living with HIV

In a new study in the journal AIDS Patient Care and STDs, John B. Jemmott III worked with one of the highest risk groups for chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure: African American men over 40 who live with HIV. And while anti-retroviral drugs often taken by these men have increased their lifespans, research indicates the drugs also make them more vulnerable to the noncommunicable diseases associated with aging.

John B. Jemmott
John B. Jemmott III, the Kenneth B. Clark Professor of Communication and Psychiatry. (Image: Annenberg School for Communication)

In a randomized controlled trial with 302 participants, Jemmott and his research team showed that three sessions of health promotion based on social cognitive theory and the reasoned action approach increased the odds that these men, who on average have low rates of physical exercise, would meet federal guidelines for physical activity in both aerobic exercise and muscle strengthening. Even a full year after the sessions, their physical activity levels were higher than the control group.

The men who completed the intervention also experienced significant increases in self-reported aerobic and muscle strengthening exercise.

While there have been several research-based attempts to increase physical activity in African American men over 40 living with HIV, Jemmott’s study was the first to succeed.

Jemmott, the Kenneth B. Clark Professor of Communication and Psychiatry, credits the success to the intervention’s tailored and interactive approach. “We tried to understand the common barriers to physical activity for this population—what makes it hard? What would make it easier to incorporate into their lifestyle?”

With a single facilitator, participants engaged in interactive activities, brainstorming, physical exercise, watching videos and playing games like “Health Jeopardy” and “Health Basketball” to reinforce the information. 

Read more at Annenberg School for Communication.