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Community and university collaboration as a means to enhance the effectiveness of a community-based childhood obesity program

Jessica Miller Rath, MPH, CHES1, Eric Schwartz, MD2, Kemi Alli, MD2, and Fannie Fonseca-Becker, DrPH3. (1) Doctoral Candidate, Health Policy and Management, Division of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health, Hampton House, 624 North Broadway, Baltimore, MD 21205, (301) 435-6932, jemiller@jhsph.edu, (2) Program Director, Chief Medical Officer, Henry J. Austin Health Center, 321 N. Warren Street, Trenton, NJ 08618, (3) Dept. of Population and Family Health Services, Johns Hopkins University, Bloomberg School of Public Health, Johnson & Johnson Community Health Evalutaion Scholars Program, 111 Market Place, Sutie 310, Baltimore, MD 21202

Background: Pediatric obesity has become an epidemic with over one fifth of American children classified as obese. Childhood obesity is associated with diabetes mellitus, hypertension, and numerous other significant illnesses. A recent audit of records at a health center in Trenton, NJ found that 21% of patients under 18 were overweight. The objective of this community-academic partnership is capacity building in the design and implementation of a monitoring and evaluation plan specific to this community based organization (CBO) program.

Methods: Methodological tools for monitoring and evaluation were introduced by the academic partner to enhance the ability of the program. In a total of 4 on site visits and consistent telephone and email communication, original program goals and objectives were refined. Social cognitive theory was used to build a conceptual framework depicting the program. The community organization was also trained in Epi-Info as a tool to computerize data for analysis. The final framework was utilized for needs assessment and to guide analysis for program monitoring and evaluation.

Results: As a result of this collaboration, this community program will utilize their data for program improvement. Results will enhance the overall effectiveness of this program.

Conclusion: This academic-community partnership gave this CBO the skills/techniques necessary to measure their effectiveness, while the academic institution gained options for “real world” experience for its students. Results will be used by the CBO to improve their current program, improve the overall health of children in their community and seek additional funding for purposes of program sustainability.

Learning Objectives: Learning Objectives