Date of Award


Document Type

Campus Access Thesis




Clinical-Community Psychology

First Advisor

Dawn K Wilson


Cardiovascular disease is a leading cause of death in the United States, and high blood pressure, a precursor to its development, disproportionately affects African American adults. Engaging in recommended levels of physical activity has been associated with clinically significant reductions in blood pressure. In addition, social and physical environmental factors (social support, neighborhood walkability) have been shown to predict physical activity in longitudinal studies. Thus, social and physical environmental supports may positively influence physical activity, which may in turn reduce blood pressure as part of a causal pathway or mediated effect. In the present study it was hypothesized that peer social support for physical activity and neighborhood walkability (social and physical environmental supports) would predict physical activity (measured by 7-day accelerometry and reported walking and exercising) which would operate as a mediator in predicting blood pressure. Baseline data collected in a sample of African American adults (N=434) living in underserved (e.g. low income, high crime) communities and participating in the Positive Action for Today's Health (PATH) trial were obtained to test this hypothesis. The sample was predominantly female (63%), overweight (body mass index [BMI]; MBMI=30.88, SD=8.43), and had low rates of physical activity (e.g. an average of 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity each week for the sample) and elevated BP with a mean systolic blood pressure of 132.37 (SD=17.89) and a mean diastolic blood pressure of 81.39 (SD=10.96). Neighborhood