How Health Professionals Can Assess Effectiveness

When considering programs— from single educational sessions to an extensive intervention—health professionals are faced with assessing the effectiveness of these programs. In a recent SurroundHealth article by contributing member, Feon Cheng, we elaborated on the 6 major steps in evaluating program effectiveness, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Framework for Program Evaluation in Public Health.

Today, we are sharing the first 3 steps—you can learn about all six by reading the full article on SurroundHealth!

Step 1: Engage Stakeholders

  • Engaging stakeholders is an important first step to ensure all their concerns and values will be addressed in the program evaluation.
    • Stakeholders are individuals or organizations that may benefit from the outcomes of the program evaluation. There are both internal (e.g., Director of Nursing, Board Committee Members, Public Health Manager, and etc.) and external stakeholders (e.g., patients, customers, funders, and etc.).

 Step 2: Describe the Program

  • Revisiting the mission, vision, goals, or objectives of the program would be crucial in determining the evaluation strategy and approach in the next step.

Step 3: Focus the Evaluation Design

  • Determine the purpose of the program evaluation: this is based on the information gathered from step 1 and 2. What are your goals for this evaluation? Are there certain areas you would like to focus on?
  • Once the overall purpose of the program evaluation has been identified, there are a variety of measures to select from.
  • After the list of questions has been identified from each of the measures, the next step is to determine which approach would best address these questions.
  • The next step is to select an analytical approach, which is often dictated by the types of question and approach selected

For more details around each of these steps, plus the last 3, be sure to check out the full article on SurroundHealth today!

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Celebrating the 4th of July

SurroundHealth would like to wish everyone a very happy 4th of July! We hope that all of our members and readers who are celebrating have a safe, healthy, and fun weekend.

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3 Resources for Health Professionals to Support Older Adult Exercise

                In a recent SurroundHealth article, member and community contributor, Catherine Solie, CHES, ACSM HFS, stresses the importance of sharing educational health information with older adult patients. Solie explains that often times exercising is a difficult habit to adopt if they don’t have prior formal experience. To help health professionals find useful resources, she shared her top choices for community and online programs available to older adults.

Here are 3 off her list:

International Council on Active Aging Facilities and Services Locator
This website helps older adults and physicians find fitness and wellness facilities dedicated to serving 50-plus adults of different abilities. The locator identifies places (for example, a retirement community, hospital wellness center or health club) with structural design, equipment and staff that welcome older adults.

EnhanceFitness is one of the National Council on Aging’s Evidence Based Physical Activity Programs proven to produce measurable health benefits for older adults. It is an exercise program that helps older adults of all fitness levels become more active, energized, and empowered to sustain independent lives. The program includes one hour group exercise classes that focus on dynamic cardiovascular exercise, strength training, balance and flexibility. There are programs in several states, the list on the webpage above lists the locations of programs.

Arthritis Foundation’s Physical Activity Programs and Resources
The Arthritis Foundation’s Physical Activity Programs include Tai Chi, Aquatics and Exercise programs proven to help people with arthritis, common among older adults, live better by reducing pain and stiffness and increasing strength, flexibility and stamina. The ‘Find a Local Program’ option lists programs by location. If there is not a program in your area there are options to purchase workout DVDs.

For more resources, read the full article on SurroundHealth today!


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How healthcare extenders play a key role in stroke patient education

Healthcare extenders play key roles in many health scenarios—assessing, educating, and supporting patients to better manage their health. Many of these patients struggle with physical, cognitive, and emotional barriers, making the healthcare extender role all the more crucial. Member Chris Kelly, MEd, discusses how their role is crucial specifically for stroke patient education, in our latest article on SurroundHealth.

Health Literacy Assessment

According to a study and article published by Dr. Kalina Sanders et. al., entitled, “Assessing the impact of Health Literacy on Education Retention of Stroke Patients,” 59% of stroke patients had inadequate to marginal health literacy. In the SurroundHealth article, Kelly emphasizes how this finding further reinforces the importance of assessing for health literacy challenges following a stroke—especially when presenting post-stoke health education. In addition, healthcare extenders should assess for emotional/psychosocial barriers that could impact health literacy and quality of life for recovering patient (and their family members/caregivers).

Health Education Sessions

Health education sessions offered to stroke patients, like the ones conducted in the study, offer healthcare extenders the chance to assess patients while also educating them. Through assessment, the extender has an opportunity to create individualized plans, helping patients and caregivers to understand and manage emotional and psychosocial symptoms and barriers.

What’s your perspective?

For others who have provided health education, support, and services to adults recovering from a stroke—what are your perspectives and the methods you take in caring for stroke patients? We’d love to hear from you.

Visit us on SurroundHealth to read the full version of, “Empowering Stroke Patients Through Health Education.”

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4 Stages to Effectively Drive Behaviors with the Use of Health Communication

Health professionals are constantly seeking approaches to better communicate with their patients and clients with the intention of improving health behaviors. A recent SurroundHealth article by member and community contributor, Feon Cheng, RD, MPH, discusses the “Health Communication Program Cycle,” which focuses program developers on ensuring that health communication meets the needs of intended audiences and effectively drives intended behaviors.

Here are the first 2 stages…check out the full article to see all 4 stages!

Stage 1: Planning and Strategy Development

  • Define and learn about your audience
  • Identify the health issue, gaps, and potential solutions
  • Set communication goals and objectives

→Need tips for writing effective goals? Check these out.

  • Explore and select health communication settings and strategies

→  Learn more about using technology as a platform for health communication

  • Decide whether you want to collaborate with others on your effort
  • Develop and draft a communication plan

→   Here’s a template to help you get started

Stage 2: Developing and Pretesting

  • Explore existing materials and identify gaps

→  Where can you find ideas? Start with universities, health departments, and health professional organizations

  • Develop materials

→   A few things to consider:

      • Are your materials theoretically based?
      • Are your materials understandable for your audience? Here are some health literacy tools to help.
      • Are you materials culturally appropriate?
  • Test materials with your intended audience and revise accordingly

What comes next? Find out by visiting us on SurroundHealth today!

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Community Health Workers: Bridging gaps in cultural and health disparities

Community Health Workers (CHWs) play a significant role in public health and are many times seen as a “bridge” between members of a community and outside health care services and networks. In a recent SurroundHealth article by member and community contributor, Patricia Hernandez, we discuss how CHWs serve as a channel to overcome cultural barriers and why they are an important asset to any health care team.

How CHWs are helping to bridge gaps:

  • Developing and implementing “health action plans”
  • Conducting “one-to-one outreach”
  • Visiting isolated/unknown areas to better understand the culture in order to identify health issues and support changes in behavior

Why a CHW is an important piece to an effective health care team:

  • CHWs provide cultural and community knowledge beneficial for a more thorough community assessment. This can lead to more practical solutions and outcomes.
  • CHWs can bring awareness around health care disparities, creating an opportunity to avoid them by providing better prevention practices.

Want to learn more about Community Health Workers?

Read more about them on SurroundHealth:

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Colon Cancer Screening and the Importance of Health Literacy

Last month a study in the journal Gastrointestinal Endoscopy reviewed the health literacy of Internet-based materials on colorectal cancer. The study looked at websites from reputable sources – the American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy, the National Cancer Institute, the CDC and the American Cancer Society – websites that physicians would likely consider referring their patients to. Of the 12 sites reviewed, 10 were above a sixth-grade reading level and almost all failed in providing suitable content that patients could use to make informed decisions about the benefits of colonoscopy.

Colon cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in the US, yet there are effective screening tests that can lead to earlier stage intervention. Research has shown that about 60 percent of people start with the Internet when seeking information on colonoscopy screening. The study authors contend that if patient information were targeted and written more effectively, screening could be more effectively promoted. Currently, the colorectal screening rate in the US for people with less than a high school education is less than 50 percent.

Beyond readability, this health literacy study looked at the suitability of content, examining how many sites addressed key concerns about colon cancer, such as chances of dying from it and how easy it would be to get screening. Those concerns were only addressed in about half of the sites and only a quarter of the sites addressed the factors that place patients at higher risk for colon cancer– being African American, a history of smoking, having diabetes, and being obese.

Screening rates remain low for a number of reasons, but frequently cited patient concerns include embarrassment (discussed on only one of the sites reviewed), pain associated with colonoscopy and the costs of the procedure (content included in only a quarter of the websites reviewed). None of the websites discussed the need to get colonoscopy when no symptoms are present.

The lead author said, “Today, the Internet often is the first point of contact between the patient and health-related information, even for patients with low literacy. In, thus, is a great opportunity for us to influence the decisions people make about their health and to steer them in the right direction. Informing patients is a physician’s responsibility and we take this role seriously.”

Health Literacy goes far beyond reading levels and making words simple. It requires understanding what patients need to understand the risks and benefits of taking an action. It requires understanding the common misconceptions that patients have and addressing them directly.  Today, the Internet is the most important source for health information, particularly as patients are making decisions about whether they should seek care, take a preventive action or follow recommended treatment. Poorly written, incomplete or confusing information leads to delays and inaction resulting in higher morbidity, mortality and added burden on the healthcare system.


Tian C, Champlin S, Mackert M, Lazard A, Agrawal D. Readability, suitability, and health content assessment of web-based patient education materials on colorectal cancer screening. Gastrointestinal Endoscopy 2014

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