Date of Conferral



Doctor of Public Health (DrPH)


Health Services


Michael Dunn


Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is responsible for approximately 600,000 deaths in the United States each year, with African Americans (AAs) disproportionately affected. Individual-level approaches to reducing CVD remain ineffective, mobilizing a movement that advocates for population-based solutions. Workplace wellness programs (WWPs) have gained considerable traction as a viable strategy for ameliorating CVD burden among workers in general. However, no studies have looked at the efficacy of WWPs in ameliorating CVD specifically among AA employees--a knowledge gap that this investigation aimed to close. Based on the health belief model and the social cognitive theory, this retrospective cohort study used de-identified secondary data to evaluate the racial differences in the mean change in CVD biomarkers between 163 AAs and 228 Caucasians civilian workers participating in a U.S. Marine Corp self-directed WWP. The 4 CVD biomarkers evaluated were systolic blood pressure (SBP), diastolic blood pressure (DBP), and waist-to-hip ratio. Repeated measures MANCOVA analysis was used to establish the contribution of the independent variable (race) to SBP, DBP, LDL cholesterol, and waist-to-hip ratio. Results showed an overall significant main effect of time for changes in SBP and DBP even after controlling for race, sex, age, and days from baseline. However, there was no overall main effect of time for changes in LDL cholesterol or waist-to-hip ratio. Further research using randomization, a comprehensive health risk appraisal, and a larger sample size may yield additional benefits to AAs. Implications for positive social change include reduction of the extraordinarily high CVD disease burden and disparity among AAs.