Health Motivator Program
- Need: To increase physical activity and other healthy habits for older adults in West Virginia.
- Intervention: Community members called Health Motivators lead senior centers and community groups in a monthly educational activity.
- Results: In a 2016 survey, 97% of Health Motivators and 92% of group members said that their health improved because of the program.
In 2007, the West
Virginia University (WVU) Extension Service created
the Health Motivator Program to teach and encourage
healthy habits in senior centers; community groups like
women's clubs and church circles; and the
Community Educational Outreach Service (CEOS)
organization, which has 3,400 members across the state.
Each year, the program explores a different aspect of
health: The 2019 theme was "Healthy Facts, Fads, and
Along with more urban locations, the program reaches
community organizations and residents in 23 rural
Community groups designate a Health Motivator to receive
free educational materials from the WVU Extension Service
and lead the group in a monthly activity throughout the
year. Health Motivators also receive calendars in which
they and their club members can keep track of daily
physical activity and other targeted health habits.
Each monthly activity includes Talking Points (in which
Health Motivators share facts about that month's topic)
and a Quick Club Activity (which includes some form of
physical activity like stretching or Chair Zumba). Each
monthly topic includes monthly challenges, jokes, and
recipes. Throughout the year, Health Motivators serve as
role models to their group members and then complete the
Record Form at the end of the year.
The 2016 Health Motivator Effectiveness Study surveyed
Health Motivators, WVU Extension Service agents, and CEOS
members to determine the program's effectiveness. In a
survey of 357 participants, researchers found that:
- There was an average of 10 Health Motivator
activities per year, lasting about 10 minutes each
- 97% of Health Motivators said that the program
affected their own health habits
- 92% of CEOS members said that their health improved
because of the program, with 75.1% reporting that they
were more physically active
- 97.3% of CEOS members said they learned new things
from Health Motivator activities
- 47.9% of CEOS members said they shared their new
knowledge with someone else
For more information about the Health Motivator Program:
Crum, G., Bowen, E., Hutson, Z., Kaczor, C., Prinzo, L.,
Roberts, D., ... & Burkhart Polk, M.E. (2018).
Health Motivators: A Study of an Integrated, Peer-Led
Health Initiative with Older Women. The Journal
of the National Extension Association of Family and
Consumer Sciences, 13, 156-166.
Program coordinators report that this is an easy program
to run but there may be a few challenges when getting
started, such as lack of community awareness and buy-in
of the program. Coordinators gained community buy-in by:
- Identifying potential organizations and their leaders
- Sharing the Health Motivator Flyer and educational
- Offering to train potential Health Motivators and
familiarizing them with the materials and their uses
West Virginia groups interested in joining the Health
Motivator program can request educational materials from
WVU Extension Service office.
Once Health Motivators have been established, program
coordinators should check in with them periodically and
offer support as needed. Health Motivators can ask club
members for ideas in planning activities. This step can
make monthly activities more personal to the group and
help group members feel more invested in the program.
Tony Michael, Family & Community Development Program Director
West Virginia University Extension Service
Community and faith-based initiatives
July 25, 2017
Date updated or reviewed
November 30, 2020
Suggested citation: Rural Health Information Hub,
Health Motivator Program [online]. Rural Health Information Hub. Available at:
[Accessed 3 July 2022]
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about this program. Summaries of models and innovations are provided by RHIhub for your convenience. The
programs described are not endorsed by RHIhub or by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy. Each rural
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needs and capacity. While it is sometimes possible to adapt program components to match your resources, keep
in mind that changes to the program design may impact results.