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American College of Rheumatology Launches Digital Health Coaching Program for Black and Latina Women with Lupus

December 16, 2020 | ACR News


ATLANTA — The American College of Rheumatology (ACR), in partnership with Pack Health, launched two digital health coaching programs to reduce health disparities among Black women and Latinas living with systemic lupus erythematosus (lupus). The ACR’s Collaborative Initiatives (COIN) department, which houses The Lupus Initiative, will lead the efforts. 

The ACR is launching the programs to address a lack of digital health coaching options for the lupus community. The ACR’s COIN department, which concerns itself with advancing health equity and eliminating health disparities, sought funding and community support to create tools that will assist Black women and Latinas living with the disease. Hopefully, having a digital health coaching program specific to this population will help with navigating daily barriers and issues they face in self-management. 

The first program is a one-year, $100,000 medical education grant. It runs until October 15, 2021 and will provide digital health coaching for 15 individuals with lupus for three months. 

The goals are to:

  • Increase patient self-efficacy to engage in recommended lifestyle behaviors and adhere to treatment recommendations;
  • Improve adherence to recommended lifestyle and behaviors; and
  • Produce insights into program acceptability, patient barriers and lupus disease burden, among other things.

The second program, known as Lupus Engagement through Activity and Digital Resources (LEADR), is a two-year, $299,000 grant-funded through the Office of Minority Health. It will run until October 30, 2022 and plans to reach 200 Black and Latina women in Georgia. LEADR aims to: 

  • Encourage more medical providers to discuss and refer their patients to a digital health coaching program, 
  • increase physical activity among Black women and Latinas with lupus, reduce negative health outcomes associated with lupus, and ultimately reduce lupus health disparities.

“Building on evidence-based approaches, LEADR’s community-driven health equity model is a unique way to address the complex, multi-faceted need for more providers to recommend physical activity and adherence among African American women and Latinas with lupus,” said Rosalind Ramsey-Goldman, MD, chair of the ACR’s Collaborative Initiatives Committee. “The ACR is singularly qualified, and positioned, to develop and implement a lasting program that improves physical activity among this particular population.”

The ACR has partnered with Pack Health, a health coaching company specializing in providing digital support to people with chronic conditions, to execute the programs. Pack Health will create curriculums and deliver one-on-one health coaching to the target populations. The ACR will lead the programs and leverage its membership, collaborations and TLI resources to achieve the outcomes.

“The focus of these programs is to develop and provide meaningful, data-driven, one-on-one support to improve the self-management skills for people with lupus,” said Kelly Brassil, PhD, RN, Pack Health’s Director of Medial Affairs. “Pack Health’s key objectives are to conduct literature reviews and collect qualitative data to understand patient needs and experiences, use what we learn to inform program development, and, in turn, better serve the needs of the lupus community. Additionally, we plan to enhance and specialize our physical activity content for individuals living with lupus, with a special emphasis on Black and Latina women.”

Lupus is a chronic disease that causes systemic inflammation affecting the skin, joints and multiple organs like the kidneys, heart and brain. It is estimated that 1.5 million Americans have a form of the condition.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Black women are three times more likely to get lupus than white women, and lupus is also more common in Hispanic, Asian, and Native American and Alaskan Native women. Additionally, Black and Hispanic women usually get lupus at a younger age and have more severe symptoms, including kidney problems, than women of other groups.


Media Contact
Monica McDonald


About the American College of Rheumatology
Founded in 1934, the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) is a not-for-profit, professional association committed to advancing the specialty of rheumatology that serves nearly 8,500 physicians, health professionals, and scientists worldwide. In doing so, the ACR offers education, research, advocacy and practice management support to help its members continue their innovative work and provide quality patient care. Rheumatology professionals are experts in the diagnosis, management and treatment of more than 100 different types of arthritis and rheumatic diseases.

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