A web-based positive psychological intervention to improve blood pressure control in spanish-speaking hispanic/latino adults with uncontrolled hypertension: Protocol and design for the ¡Alégrate! randomized controlled trial

Rosalba Hernandez*, Michael Cohn, Alison Hernandez, Martha Daviglus, Lizet Martinez, Angela Martinez, Itzel Martinez, Ramon Durazo-Arvizu, Judith Moskowitz

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Background: Growing evidence links psychological well-being and resilience with superior cardiac health, but there remains a critical scientific gap about whether (or how) interventions that aim to cultivate psychological well-being reduce cardiac risk. Hispanic/Latino people in the United States have high cardiovascular disease risk and poorly controlled blood pressure (BP) compared with their peers of European ancestry, and they represent a population in need of new and innovative therapeutic approaches. As such, a focused intervention to boost psychological well-being holds promise as a novel therapeutic target for hypertension in Hispanic/Latino adults; to date, however, no research has explored whether a causal link is evident. Objective: The aim of this paper is to detail the protocol for the ¡Alégrate! (Be Happy!) intervention, a Phase II randomized controlled trial testing initial efficacy in improving BP of a web-based positive psychological intervention designed to boost psychological well-being in Spanish-speaking Hispanic/Latino people with hypertension. Methods: A total of 70 Hispanic/Latino people aged ≥18 years, fluent in Spanish, and with elevated BP (≥140/90 mm Hg) will be recruited in person from a single Federally Qualified Health Center in Chicago. Enrollees will be randomly assigned to 1 of 2 trial arms: (1) web-based positive psychological intervention or (2) an active control condition (eg, 3 times weekly emotion reporting). Our 5-week Spanish-language ¡Alégrate! intervention is web-based and delivers curricular content via didactic instruction, journaling, and assigned at-home practice—all accessed via our website using investigator-purchased tablet computers, with a unique username and password assigned to each enrollee. Targeted skills include noting daily positive events, positive reappraisal of stressful events, effective expression of gratitude, performing acts of kindness, and regular practice of mindfulness and meditation. The primary outcome is improvement in BP, both sitting values and 24-hour ambulatory readings, as measured at baseline and 5 and 12 weeks from baseline. Secondary outcomes include psychological well-being, engagement in healthy behaviors, and circulating levels of inflammatory markers. The outcomes of interest are collected by trained research staff through in-person interviews using the REDCap software. Results: Activities of the ¡Alégrate! intervention were funded in August 2017, and data collection is ongoing. We expect to submit trial results for peer-reviewed publications in 2021, soon after recruitment has been concluded and statistical analyses are finalized. Conclusions: Findings will provide evidence on whether interventions to boost psychological well-being and resilience have downstream effects on BP control and cardiovascular health, particularly as they are deployed in the Spanish language with cultural tailoring and via a web-based platform. If effective, we will have an easily disseminatable application that can positively impact well-being profiles and BP control in Hispanic/Latino people, with the possibility of addressing health disparities of this US racial/ethnic minority group.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere17721
JournalJMIR Research Protocols
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2020


  • Blood pressure
  • Culture
  • Emotions
  • Happiness
  • Hispanic Americans
  • Hypertension
  • Positive psychology
  • Telemedicine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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