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January 13, 1989

Health Educators Turn to Black Community's Leaders, Organizations, Other Strengths

JAMA. 1989;261(2):194-195. doi:10.1001/jama.1989.03420020024005

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THE BLACK COMMUNITY has characteristics that health educators say can be used to foster its members' well-being, although they add that it has other characteristics that pose particular problems to health education.

An example of a useful characteristic is that existing leaders and organizations in the black community have already earned people's confidence, says Helene D. Gayle, MD, MPH, of the Centers for Disease Control, Atlanta. They provide valuable assistance in disseminating health information.

The black church is a prominent example, adds John W. Hatch, MSW, DPH. As one of the few organizations controlled by blacks, it mirrors the pattern of influence within the black community.

Hatch developed the Fitness Through Churches project in Durham, NC, in 1985, to combat cardiovascular disease. Selected members of 14 innercity congregations were taught to be health advocates, organizing and instructing exercise programs (Hygie 1986;5[3]:9-12).

Their training includes aerobic exercise along with information on