August 8, 1997

Nurse presents hypertension work in London

Nurse presents hypertension work in London

Vanderbilt University Medical Center's Jacqueline Harris, R.N., recently presented research findings at the 12th International Interdisciplinary Conference on Hypertension in Blacks held in London.

The annual conference, which took place this year in late July, is designed to provide a forum for medical researchers to exchange new approaches in the prevention and treatment of hypertension.

Harris' research, entitled "Establishing Church-Based Health Promotion Teams: A Model for Christian Ministry in the Black Church," grew out of a volunteer project she started at her church three years ago.

"I instituted a Health Promotion Team at my church to encourage healthy living habits among members. Later on, we were fortunate to receive an NIH grant to study ways to lower hypertension in African-Americans, which allowed us to expand our services," Harris said.

According to her abstract, the program is based on the historical role of the church as an instrument of change in the lives of African Americans. It aims to provide basic health education and services specific to the needs of church members. Activities sponsored by Harris' Health Promotion Team have included a play depicting African-American health habits and how these habits contribute to hypertension, a smoking cessation letter-writing contest, and weekly blood pressure screenings after Sunday morning services.

Though Harris is honored to have the opportunity to share her work at the international conference, she notes the presentation does not signal an end to her project.

"I feel especially honored to be selected for this conference because of the wide range of health professionals that will be involved, from nurses to physicians to medical researchers and many other health workers. But I am still working here – the project is still going on."

The conference is sponsored by the International Society on Hypertension in Blacks (ISHIB). This year, it drew nearly 1,000 medical delegates from around the world. Sessions at the conference explored the consequences of hypertension and recent advances in the prevention, control and treatment of cardiovascular, renal and cerebrovascular organ damage.

ISHIB is a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the health and life expectancy of ethnic populations in the United States and around the world. The Society was founded in 1986 to respond to the problem of high blood pressure among ethnic groups and implements programs to address hypertension and its complications, which include renal disease, diabetes, stroke, and lipid disorders.