Leaning on the Lord: Spiritual health locus of control and breast cancer risk reduction in African American women
Background. Mortality from breast cancer in the United States is highest among African American (AA) women. Risk factors for breast cancer in this population include lack of physical activity and obesity, caused in part by high intakes of dietary fat. Risk reduction initiatives that incorporate AA women's cultural values and beliefs are needed. Many AA women consider spirituality a vital part of their lives. An increasing literature suggests an as yet unexplained positive relationship between spirituality and health behavior in AA women. Methods. The current study examined Spiritual Health Locus of Control (SHLOC) as a potential explanation for that positive relationship in a community sample of 46 overweight/obese AA women participating in a randomized control study of an integrated weight loss/breast health intervention. Participants were expected to have diets high in fat, to participate in limited physical activity, to participate in breast cancer screening, and to be highly spiritual/religious. The primary study hypothesis was that women high in internal and/or active SHLOC would evidence greater decreases in weight, BMI, and fat intake and greater increases in physical activity than women high in external and/or passive SHLOC. Data collected included demographics, anthropometrics, and information regarding physical activity, dietary intake, breast health screening, spirituality and religiosity. Results. Mean (SD) age of participants was 47.5 (10.5) years, median household income was $20,500, mean BMI was 39.7 (7.8) kg/m2, mean dietary intake from fat was 35.6 (6.2) %kcal, and mean energy expenditure was 34.6 (3.9) %kcal. Post-intervention Pearson correlation analyses showed that externality was associated with weight gain (r = .297, p < 0.05) and increase in BMI (r = .301, p < 0.05). Spirituality was a core of inspiration and decision-making in 98% of participants. Conclusions. Spiritual health locus of control appears to be related to health outcomes in African American women. Further study of this construct as well as the role of spirituality as a tool in health behavior change in this population is warranted.
0573: Public health