African-American individuals are at an increased risk for several health conditions such as chronic kidney disease and heart disease – and the COVID-19 pandemic has only heightened these health disparities. Before the current health crisis, Anthem, Inc. developed an interactive website, Take Action for Health (takeactionforhealth.org) with the common goal of eliminating health disparities in the Black community.
Working in collaboration with Beckman Research Institute of City of Hope; Golden State Medical Association; National Urban League (NUL); Pfizer, Inc.; and 100 Black Men of America, Inc., the Take Action for Health web tool has a goal to help eliminate chronic health disparities in African-American communities which contribute to increased morbidity and mortality.
“The vision was to really increase the health and wellness of the African-American community,” said Dr. David Pryor, MPH, regional vice president and medical director for Anthem California Commercial Large and Strategic Accounts, who helped launch the tool in 2016 and conducted a pilot study to validate its vision.
“The pilot was to see how to use an interactive website to move people along the pathway of learning about their condition to taking action to make health screenings. Getting them out of that thinking phrase, if you will.”
Pryor explained the Prochaska cycle of change: How one first may have no intention of changing their behavior; then, after receiving information, may contemplate making a behavioral change in their health as they are made aware of their problem; then they may prepare to take action to address the problem; then, after gaining additional information, resources and tools, they are able to move into the preparation stage and are ready to take action and get the screening or tests they need.
Pilot study results validated the initiative’s vision. Two hundred and ninety participants completed the pre-test. Of these 290 participants, 102 also completed some or all of the intervention and post-test components.
The site focuses on five health conditions: Emotional, cancer, heart health, diabetes and kidney health. As the pandemic greatly affected those who are dealing with these health disparities, the Take Action for Health site got a lot of hits.
“During covid, we saw an increase,” Pryor said. “COVID-19 has a real impact on persons with chronic conditions. There was an increase in people using this site. One of areas of most interest was prediabetes.”
Take Action for Health seeks to educate, encourage screenings, address barriers, provide information on low and no-cost services, monitor screenings, and allow participants to share information with providers and others. The overall architecture of the site helps visitors learn about their condition; act to get screenings, tests or treatments; monitor their condition and share the information with others.
Over the last five years, more than 11 thousand people have utilized the site, according to Pryor. The developers continue to use collaborators to enhance the success of the site.
“Like 100 Black Men,” Pryor noted. “We want to make sure we’re reaching out to Black men. We’ve added on these collaborations so that we hopefully can get this message out into a lot of these diverse communities and more people will utilize it.”
The web tool also motivates people to attend onsite wellness seminars on these topics at NUL affiliate offices in order to reinforce the importance of health screenings to detect diseases early, when they are more treatable.
Take Action for Health aims to educate, address barriers to care, and empower African-Americans to take action to protect their health through preventative screenings and access to low-to-no-cost healthcare services in their community. For more information, visit takeactionforhealth.com.
“We want to arm the community with valuable information of importance,” Pryor said.