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Integrated health programming provides seamless response to Commonwealth and beyond|
By Deborah A. Benedetti
| Penn State has launched Creating Health, a new multidimensional and multimedia health education initiative aimed at motivating people to change their behavior for improved health.|
The initiative is a collaborative effort of Penn State outreach units, including Penn State Public Broadcasting, the College of Agricultural Sciences, the College of Health and Human Development, the College of Medicine, Penn State Cooperative Extension, the Division of Continuing Education and Penn State World Campus/Distance Education.
The concept is modeled after the Creating Health series of Wisconsin Public Television, Ted Krichels, assistant vice president for outreach and general manager of Penn State Public Broadcasting, said. Weve adapted the model to take advantage of the outreach capacities at Penn State to focus on solving significant health-related issues affecting people in rural and urban areas of Pennsylvania.
Krichels believes the Creating Health model can be developed into an education and learning tool kit that can be replicated by communities nationwide. The model illustrates how public broadcasting organizations and universities can partner to inform and educate individuals, organizations and communities about health issues and many other important concerns.
The first Creating Health program focuses on osteoporosis, Krichels said, because this disease is one of the most compelling health issues today.
Penn State Public Broadcasting produced the 30-minute program Osteoporosis and Bone Health in collaboration with the academic colleges and outreach units. The program provides an overview of the disease, which results in porous bones, and explores profiles of three people who have osteoporosis. The program offers practical information about nutrition and diet, exercise and risk assessment to give people a better understanding of the disease and prevention options.
Osteoporosis and Bone Health aired on public television stations WPSX-TV and WITF-TV, Harrisburg, in October 2001 and January 2002. WPSX and WITF reach people in more than half the counties in Pennsylvania, according to Tracy Vosburgh, Creating Health co-project director and director of programming and production for Penn State Public Broadcasting.
Other components of the Creating Health initiative include an interactive Web site (www.creatinghealth.psu.edu), related osteoporosis programming on Penn States public radio station WPSU-FM, exhibits at health service sites, booklets, brochures and newsletters. In addition, Penn State Cooperative Extension family living agents are coordinating community-based educational events and activities to encourage individuals and families to take an active role in decision-making about their health.
Health care is often limited in rural Pennsylvania, as well as in many urban communities, Dr. Marilyn Corbin, Creating Health co-project director, assistant director of Penn State Cooperative Extension and state program leader for children, youth and families, said. The need for the Creating Health project was born out of the health professional shortage areas throughout the central region. Creating Health addresses the need by tying Penn States research and education with community outreach.
Dr. Michelle Rodgers, regional director for the Capital Region of Cooperative Extension and Outreach, is working closely with Cooperative Extension agents in the Capital Region to bring the message about osteoporosis to residents in many different ways.
The Creating Health initiative enables Penn State outreach partners to collaborate with local partners to address the individual needs of people in the best way possible in each local community, Rodgers said. The extension agents are involved with outreach colleagues to design and develop the best resources that can be contributed by the various units. They then package and deliver the program in a unique way based on local resources and collaborators. The linkage of extension educators with the WITF-TV public broadcasting station in our region and Penn State Public Broadcastings WPSX-TV demonstrates how the land-grant university can use distance and face-to-face contacts to make a meaningful and effective program delivery strategy.
Capital Region family and consumer sciences agents have participated in teacher in-service training on osteoporosis. They have publicized the health risks and prevention strategies for osteoporosis in the local news media through newspaper columns and interviews on WHTM-TV in Dauphin and WSBA radio in York and through articles for 4-H and other newsletters. They have distributed Tween Times and other health literature at meetings. They have distributed calcium posters to preschools in Lebanon County and participated in youth programs in Adams County and bone scanning sessions in Lebanon and Dauphin counties. They also have spoken at the Farm Women County Convention in Lancaster.
According to Rodgers, Capital Region family and consumer sciences agents are planning to continue to share information about osteoporosis and other health issues as part of the Creating Health initiative. Extension agents will participate in Spring Awareness Day in Adams and Franklin counties, health fairs where they will have information displays and play the Spin the Bone game, the Farm Women Convention and Farm Bureau annual meetings, hospital wellness programs, grocery store visits and community dinners. They will have programs on health at 4-H camp and Homemaker Camp and during teacher in-service sessions. They also will distribute literature through the Better Kid Care and TOPS programs.
A key factor in the Creating Health initiative has been the partnership of Penn State colleges and outreach units, Dr. Theodore R. Alter, associate vice president for outreach, director of Cooperative Extension and associate dean in the College of Agricultural Sciences, said.
Were using a comprehensive educational strategy grounded in the expertise of the College of Agricultural Sciences, the College of Health and Human Development and the College of Medicine, Alter said. This is a great example of the potential and power of the outreach delivery mechanism at Penn State. We are working across colleges and outreach organizations to integrate in a complementary fashion the strengths of these different segments of the University.
Alter added, Human health is a fundamental issue and concern today individually and from a societal point of view. Penn State is strategically positioned to deliver current, relevant and visionary science-based programming using all of our delivery mechanisms: Penn State Cooperative Extension, Penn State Public Broadcasting, Division of Continuing Education and Penn State World Campus/Distance Education. Creating Health is consistent with our mission and philosophy as a land-grant university, and we have the expertise and resources to take health information and education into rural and urban areas.
Krichels concurs with that assessment of the potential for the Creating Health initiative.
The Creating Health initiative is being developed by Penn State Public Broadcasting and Penn State Cooperative Extension, two of the Universitys most trusted sources for educational content and community outreach, he said. Our programming is based on scientific research and scholarship by faculty members, and this content is being taken into communities by Cooperative Extension agents who are respected educators.
Penn State Public Broadcasting staff members are packaging the Creating Health content into public television and radio programs to reach a wide audience. The staff also has developed the Creating Health Web site.
Corbin noted the Creating Health initiative is aimed at women, because they are the primary initiators of health care for their families, whether it be spouse, children or aging parents. Women can have a positive influence on their family members health. Our overall goal for Creating Health is to provide tips and suggestions to consumers to make good decisions about their own health.
Vosburgh added, We have the delivery mechanisms to reach the public in multiple ways, using the capabilities of Penn State Public Broadcasting and Cooperative Extension and other outreach units. Osteoporosis and Bone Health is intended to get people to think about their health and how they can take charge of making changes to improve their health.
There is a phenomenal momentum for Creating Health, Vosburgh said. This is just the beginning. People are calling and asking how they can be involved. This project is resonating with Penn State faculty and staff members.
The Osteoporosis and Bone Health program outlines what young people and adults can do to build and maintain strong bones. In the program, faculty members Dr. Kristine S. Clark, coordinator of Penn State Sports Nutrition Programs; Dr. J. Lynne Brown, associate professor of food science; and Dr. Luanne E. Thorndyke, assistant dean of continuing education and associate professor of medicine, College of Medicine, discuss nutrition and exercise measures to build bone mass and minimize the risk of developing osteoporosis.
As part of the Creating Health initiative, Penn State has conducted a baseline survey of women in several Pennsylvania counties to assess their awareness about the risks of osteoporosis and prevention options. A follow-up survey is planned and will measure the impact and behavioral change resulting from the Osteoporosis and Bone Health program.
Laura Bernhard, marketing research associate with the Outreach Office of Marketing Research, coordinated the survey of 4,000 adult women in Adams, Blair, Bradford, Clearfield and Dauphin counties. Names were selected from membership lists for Penn States public television station WPSX-TV and public television station WITF-TV, Harrisburg, and from Penn State Cooperative Extension mailing lists in these counties.
Nearly 1,400 surveys were received from women in the five counties. The survey asked questions about the womens health and their knowledge of osteoporosis. The survey found:
The Creating Health initiative has received funding support from Penn States Outreach Partnership Fund and Program Innovation Fund, a College of Agricultural Sciences Seed Grant, a Leadership for Institutional Change grant and a U.S. Department of Agriculture grant. The Creating Health Advisory Board is seeking additional funding from federal, state and foundation sources.
An outreach program of Penn State Public Broadcasting, College of Agricultural Sciences, College of Health and Human Development, College of Medicine, Penn State Cooperative Extension, Division of Continuing Education and Penn State World Campus/Distance Education