Public Release: 

Barriers to an integrated family-based health promotion program in Harlem

Mount Sinai releases new findings at the AHA Scientific Sessions 2015

The Mount Sinai Hospital / Mount Sinai School of Medicine

Researchers at Mount Sinai Heart conducted a qualitative study to identify factors that may affect the implementation of an integrated family-based health promotion program for children aged 3-5 years old and their caregivers in Harlem, known as the FAMILIA Project. An abstract of the study was presented this week at the American Heart Association (AHA)'s Scientific Sessions 2015 in Orlando, Florida.

The FAMILIA Project is the brainchild of world-renowned cardiologist Valentin Fuster, MD, PhD, Director of Mount Sinai Heart and Physician-in-Chief of The Mount Sinai Hospital. Mount Sinai Heart is ranked No. 7 in the nation by U.S. News & World Report in its 2015 "Best Hospitals" issue.

Dr. Fuster's initiative is made possible thanks to $3.8 million in grant support to Mount Sinai Heart by the AHA. For the FAMILIA Project, Mount Sinai has partnered with NYC's Administration for Children's Services (ACS), Division of Early Care and Education Head Start programs.

The Harlem area of New York City (NYC) has among the highest obesity and diabetes prevalence rates in the city. Nearly half of the children in Head Start programs and about 94 percent of adults are overweight or obese. NYC's new four-year, early-heart health education and assessment project is enrolling 600 children ages 3-5 in eight of NYC's Head Start preschool programs in the high-risk community of Harlem, along with 1,000 of their caregivers to improve nutritional and lifestyle knowledge, health, and habits of children and their families.

Researchers from The Mount Sinai Hospital conducted five focus group discussions at two Head Start preschool centers in Harlem, to determine potential barriers toward implementing an integrated family-based health promotion program. The focus groups included 25 parents, teachers, directors, educational directors, nutritionists, cooks, and mental health and social service professionals.

According to lead investigator Sameer Bansilal, MD, MS, Assistant Professor of Cardiology at The Mount Sinai Hospital, "We identified seven potential themes that might act as barriers to the successful implementation of an integrated family-based health program for young children and their caregivers. We then identified actions that will successfully address these barriers during program implementation. The researchers at The Mount Sinai Hospital believe this type of approach may have relevance for other health promotion programs in similar settings."

The seven identified themes are:

  • knowledge regarding social determinants of chronic diseases
  • knowledge and perceptions regarding childhood obesity
  • impact of stress on health
  • impact of media and advertising on health choices
  • perception regarding researchers
  • incentives for healthy behaviors and choices
  • cultural and social sensitivity

Abstract 322 was presented at the AHA Scientific Sessions 2015 as Barriers to Implementation of an Integrated Family-based Health Promotion Program in Harlem, New York: The FAMILIA study- an AHA Strategically Focused Research Network Study.


About the Mount Sinai Health System

The Mount Sinai Health System is an integrated health system committed to providing distinguished care, conducting transformative research, and advancing biomedical education. Structured around seven hospital campuses and a single medical school, the Health System has an extensive ambulatory network and a range of inpatient and outpatient services--from community-based facilities to tertiary and quaternary care.

The System includes approximately 6,100 primary and specialty care physicians; 12 joint-venture ambulatory surgery centers; more than 140 ambulatory practices throughout the five boroughs of New York City, Westchester, Long Island, and Florida; and 31 affiliated community health centers. Physicians are affiliated with the renowned Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, which is ranked among the highest in the nation in National Institutes of Health funding per investigator. The Mount Sinai Hospital is ranked as one of the nation's top 10 hospitals in Geriatrics, Cardiology/Heart Surgery and Gastroenterology, and is in the top 25 in five other specialties in the 2014-2015 "Best Hospitals" issue of U.S. News & World Report. Mount Sinai's Kravis Children's Hospital also is ranked in seven out of ten pediatric specialties by U.S. News & World Report. The New York Eye and Ear Infirmary of Mount Sinai is ranked 11th nationally for Ophthalmolgy, while Mount Sinai Beth Israel is ranked regionally.

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