Women in Newfoundland and Labrador are at higher risk for developing cardiovascular and cerebrovascular disease than the rest of Canada due to higher rates of obesity, diabetes, hypertension and smoking. In response to this health problem, a special Vascular Risk Reduction Program for Women (VRRP) was developed, implemented, and evaluated in one rural and one urban community in Newfoundland and Labrador. The VRRP is a community based, lifestyle modification program offered to self-identified women at risk for vascular disease. Thirty-two women participated in four, one-hour education sessions over a 4-week period. Health care professionals including physicians, nurses, dieticians, kinesiologists, pharmacists, and physiotherapists volunteered to deliver the educational sessions.
The research team at Memorial was asked to evaluate the program. The objectives of the evaluation were;
1. To determine participant satisfaction with the Vascular Risk Reduction Program for Women.
2. To determine the impact of the Vascular Risk Reduction Program for Women on knowledge, attitudes and behaviors.
3. To assess Health Care Providers satisfaction with the Vascular Risk Reduction Program for Women.
4. To make recommendations for future offerings of the Vascular Risk Reduction Program for Women.
Pre and post-test assessment of knowledge, behaviors, and attitudes related to vascular disease was collected. Prior to the program participants had a high level of knowledge and were motivated to attend the program. After participation in the VRRP participants reported changes in their knowledge and self-reported health behaviors, including changes in their diet (smaller portions), an increased motivation to engage in healthy behaviors, and an increased understanding of the impact social interactions on health. Participants reported an increased knowledge of medications, how to create personal goals and how to increase their physical activity. Key recommendations from the project include establishing a budget for future offerings of the program and standardizing the education modules. This project showed that these women have a high level of knowledge, but they are searching for help to translate that knowledge into behaviors.