Methods: A prospective study design was used to examine trends and correlations among the data. Institutional and individual members of the National Consortium for Building Healthy Academic Communities (BHAC) were asked to participate in the program. Participants from those academic institutions were able to access the free, online program via the e-learning website of a college of nursing housed within a large public land grant University in the mid-west region of the United States. Participants who opted to enroll in the BHAC Million Hearts program joined an online educational program that consisted of the following: 1) an overview of the national Million Hearts initiative; 2) understanding their biometric numbers; 3) improving CV health through healthy lifestyle behavioral changes and 4) managing stress through stress reduction techniques. An anonymous 12-item survey was developed and administered to all participants after they completed the education content.
Results: Analysis was completed for the BHAC Consortium as a whole, and for results at the host institution for BHAC, a majority of the participants were female (81%), between the ages of 20-29 (60%), white (65%), and a spouse/same-sex domestic partner of a faculty/staff member (61%). A majority were non-smoking (85%), ate 2-3 servings of fruits/vegetables per day (47%) and exercised less than 75 minutes per week (32%). 72% responded with no diagnosis of a chronic condition, had a normal body mass index (50%) and scored a 5-8 on the perceived stress scale (40%). High level of stress was significantly correlated with race (p=.02), participants diagnosed with at least one chronic condition (p<.0001), a BMI of 25-29.9 (p=.04), and those that ate 0-1 servings of fruit/vegetables per day (p=.0002). For the sub-category of the host institution, a majority of the participants were female (74%), between the ages of 30-39 (30%), white (83%), and a staff member (62%). A majority were non-smoking (90%), ate 3-4 servings of fruits/vegetables per day (43%) and exercised less than 75 minutes per week (32%). 68% responded with no diagnosis of a chronic condition, had a normal body mass index (38%) and scored a 0-4 on the perceived stress scale (39%). High level of stress was significantly correlated with being a smoker (p=.05), participants diagnosed with at least one chronic condition (p<.001), and a BMI of over 30 (p=.05).
Conclusion: The Million Hearts national initiative, as outlined by the intervention components “ABCS” can be a successful method for educating and encouraging populations to adopt healthy lifestyle behaviors. Elevated perceived levels of stress are often observed with the diagnosis of a chronic condition. Reducing stress and managing chronic condition(s) through behavior change is an ideal way to improve population health.