A community organization strategy was used in the delivery of health education programs by the Minnesota Heart Health Program (MHHP). The effectiveness of the approach was evaluated to determine whether an enhanced health promotion delivery system had developed in MHHP communities by the end of the intervention period or whether the intervention had suppressed community efforts. 'Social connectedness' among providers, as measured by health promotion network size, also was expected to be higher in intervention communities. Six Midwestern communities were studied: the MHHP communities of Mankato, MN and Fargo, ND--Moorhead, MN with two matched comparison communities for each (Winona, MN, St Cloud, MN and Eau Claire, WI, Sioux Falls, SD). Nine areas of health promotion were assessed, including the five heart disease risk factor areas where education campaigns had been implemented (smoking cessation, weight loss, eating patterns, exercise, and heart disease education and screening) and four other areas where community programs are common (chemical dependency; home, personal and drivers' safety; stress management; and cancer education and screening). Indicators of the health promotion delivery system were developed (program options and program participation), and data were collected in separate surveys of 438 community organization providers and 320 larger worksites in the six communities. Results showed no suppression of health promotion delivery systems in MHHP communities. Instead, the survey of larger worksites showed that there was greater participation in heart disease health promotion and greater 'social connectedness' among worksites in both intervention communities. Also, there were more heart disease health promotion programs in the larger intervention community of Fargo-Moorhead. In the community organization survey, results favored the larger intervention community over its comparison communities in heart disease health promotion program options and in 'social connectedness' but not in program participation. However, survey results favored one of the comparison communities (Winona) over the smaller intervention community (Mankato) on all indicators in this survey. The greater impact of the MHHP intervention at worksites suggests that institutionalization may be more likely in stable organizations whose current needs and interests fit the goals of the intervention activity.
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