History and Development

History and Development of SisterTalk

SisterTalk is based on SisterTalk Hartford, a faith-based, healthy-lifestyle weight loss program, funded by the Donaghue Foundation. SisterTalk Hartford was developed and tested collaboratively by UConn Health researchers, hospital advisors and the leadership and volunteers of twelve African American Churches in Hartford, Connecticut. SisterTalk Hartford was created from a partnership between these twelve African American and Black churches, Saint Francis Hospital, UConn Health, and Brown University. This unique program combines the strengths of formative research, development, and cultural tailoring by nutrition and weight loss experts at Brown University with spiritual materials developed in partnership with the church community.

The program has since been updated and tailored to African American and Black women in New York City. UConn Health, in partnership with EmblemHealth and seven founding churches in Harlem and Cambria Heights including The Greater Allen Cathedral of New York, reviewed, rewrote and re-filmed the original footage to make it appropriate for women in New York City. The Greater Allen Cathedral of New York has been and continues to be a leading church and is now the primary church working to spread the program across the churches.

Participation Criteria for the Original Study

To ensure the scientific validity and safety of the original study, women meeting the following guidelines were eligible to participate:

  •  African American and Black women at least 18 years old, with a Body Mass Index (BMI) of at least 25, who planned to attend the program at a participating church.

  •  Women were told they should not participate if they had any of the following conditions:

    • Insulin dependent diabetes

    • A heart attack requiring hospitalization in the past 2 years
    • Ever had a stroke

    • Uncontrolled high blood pressure (hypertension)

    • Congestive heart failure (CHF)

    • Were pregnant or nursing

    • An eating disorder like anorexia or bulimia

    • Existing dietary restrictions from their health care provider that would conflict with the information in the program

    • Unable to participate in mild exercise such as walking or exercising in a chair