Background.The WISEWOMAN projects are examining the feasibility and effectiveness of adding a cardiovascular disease (CVD) prevention component to a nationwide program of early detection for breast and cervical cancer aimed at financially disadvantaged women. This paper describes the rationale and design of the WISEWOMAN projects, the baseline findings of the screenings, and the plans for evaluation.
Methods.In selected breast and cervical cancer screening sites throughout Massachusetts, Arizona, and North Carolina, blood pressure, body weight, cholesterol, smoking, diet, and physical activity were assessed at baseline, 6 months, and 12 months. To evaluate the effectiveness of CVD prevention, these sites were assigned to either a minimum or an enhanced intervention group. The enhanced interventions, tailored to the populations served, featured skill building and facilitating activities to improve nutrition and increase physical activity.
Results.Baseline screenings of 4,842 women revealed a high prevalence of CVD risk factors. High cholesterol was found among 40% of the women in North Carolina and Massachusetts, hypertension was found among 63% of the women in North Carolina, and overweight was found among 83% of the women in Arizona.
Conclusions.It is appropriate to expand breast and cervical cancer screening programs to include screening for CVD.