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Rural Project Examples: Wellness, health promotion, and disease prevention

Evidence-Based Examples

Chronic Disease Self-Management Program
Updated/reviewed October 2017
  • Need: To help people with chronic conditions learn how to manage their health.
  • Intervention: A small-group 6-week workshop for individuals with chronic conditions to learn skills and strategies to manage their health.
  • Results: Participants have better health and quality of life, including reduction in pain, fatigue, and depression.
Fit & Strong!
Updated/reviewed August 2017
  • Need: Osteoarthritis is a chronic condition which often causes multiple related disabilities in older adults.
  • Intervention: An 8-week physical activity, behavior change, and falls prevention program geared to older adults with osteoarthritis.
  • Results: Participants gained confidence with increased exercise, lessened stiffness, improved joint pain and improved lower extremity strength and mobility.
Sickness Prevention Achieved through Regional Collaboration (SPARC, Inc.®)
Updated/reviewed July 2017
  • Need: Population-based rates of adult vaccinations and cancer screenings are low, with fewer than 40% of older adults up to date with routinely recommended prevention services. Delivery rates are lower still in low-income and minority communities.
  • Intervention: SPARC was established to develop and test new community-wide strategies to increase the delivery of clinical preventive services.
  • Results: Across the United States in both rural and urban communities, SPARC programs, which broaden the delivery of potentially life-saving preventive services, have been successfully launched, improving residents' health.
Helping Kids PROSPER
Updated/reviewed January 2017
  • Need: An approach to support sustained, quality delivery of evidence-based programs for youth and families in rural communities.
  • Intervention: PROSPER, a program delivery system, guides communities in implementing evidence-based programs that build youth competencies, improve family functioning, and prevent risky behaviors, particularly substance use.
  • Results: Youth in PROSPER communities reported delayed initiation of a variety of substances, lower levels of other behavioral problems, and improvements in family functioning and other life skills.

Effective Examples

Heart-Healthy Lenoir Project
Updated/reviewed November 2017
  • Need: In rural eastern North Carolina, Lenoir County residents experience significantly higher rates of cardiovascular disease, stroke, and obesity rates compared to other parts of the state and nation.
  • Intervention: A community-based research project was designed to develop and test better ways to tackle cardiovascular disease from prevention to treatment.
  • Results: The end goal includes the development of long-lasting strategies and approaches within the community to help decrease the risk and disparities in risk of cardiovascular disease.
LIFE - Living (well through) Intergenerational Fitness and Exercise
Updated/reviewed November 2017
  • Need: Rural-residing older adults in Iowa have inadequate access to physical activity specialists and/or exercise facilities, which limits their ability to remain sufficiently active.
  • Intervention: Iowa State University implemented an intergenerational “exergaming” program to encourage fun and safe physical fitness among rural older adults.
  • Results: Pilot studies showed that older adults demonstrated increases in strength, flexibility, activity levels, and confidence in their ability to be physically active. Younger adults experienced reduced ageism and increased knowledge and expectations of aging.
funded by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy One Community Health's Wellness Programs
Updated/reviewed October 2017
  • Need: Difficulties obtaining healthcare access to treat diabetes and obesity for low-income and Spanish-speaking residents of Oregon and Washington's Columbia River Gorge area.
  • Intervention: A local healthcare facility developed wellness programs using bilingual community health workers to provide education and support that improves diets, physical activity, and teaches stress management.
  • Results: Many participants in the wellness programs have maintained or lost weight and have seen reductions in their cholesterol levels, blood pressure, and blood sugar levels. Vegetable vouchers, cooking classes, and budgeting education has also helped patients afford healthy food.
Rural Restaurant Healthy Options Program
Updated/reviewed October 2017
  • Need: Obesity has become a widespread health epidemic in the United States, especially in rural areas. Due to small profit margins and the fear of customer loss, small owner-operated rural restaurants are hesitant to make health-conscious changes to their menus.
  • Intervention: The Healthy Options Program offered an economical and low-maintenance program for owner-operated restaurants in Iowa to increase awareness of already existing healthy menu options and substitutions.
  • Results: Restaurants received positive community feedback and experienced no financial loss. Customers noticed and appreciated the healthy option reminders, and ordering behavior was impacted in a healthy way.
funded by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy Health Coaches for Hypertension Control
Updated/reviewed September 2017
  • Need: A cost-effective approach to help rural patients with hypertension learn to manage their condition.
  • Intervention: Community volunteers trained as health coaches provided an 8-session hypertension management training program to hypertension patients older than 60, with an optional supplemental 8 sessions focused on nutrition and physical activity.
  • Results: Just 16 weeks after the program, participants had improved systolic blood pressure, weight, and fasting glucose, greater knowledge of hypertension, and improved self-reported behaviors.
funded by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy Regional Oral Health Pathways
Updated/reviewed September 2017
  • Need: To address the oral health needs of low-income uninsured and underinsured residents in rural Appalachia.
  • Intervention: An oral health education program was implemented in Appalachian Maryland, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia.
  • Results: This program has increased oral health visits in the area and has provided residents with valuable information on oral health resources and services.