260819 Tobacco Use and Exposure among Special Olympics Athletes

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Amy H. Shellard, MPH , Research and Evaluation, Special Olympics International, Washington, DC
Heather Parker, MS, CHES , Healthy Athletes Program, Special Olympics, Washington, DC
Darcie L. Mersereau, MPH , Special Olympics University, Special Olympics International, Washington, DC
Background: People with intellectual disabilities (ID) experience poor health and specialized health needs. Special Olympics (SO) International implemented the Healthy Athletes® (HA) program to provide SO athletes with health screenings, education, and referrals for follow-up care. Since 1997, HA has conducted 1.2 million screenings, and data from these screenings are aggregated into the world's largest database on the health of people with ID. Methods: HA screenings span seven health disciplines: health promotion, podiatry, fitness, audiology, vision, dental health, and sports physicals. Questions about tobacco are included in the health promotion discipline. This study examined the prevalence of tobacco use and exposure among SO athletes and examined regional differences. Results: Among SO athletes screened, 37.4% reported someone in their family uses a tobacco product. Athletes in East Asia were most likely to report someone in their family uses tobacco (51.4%) followed by Europe/Eurasia (47.6%). Seven percent of SO athletes reported currently using tobacco products, and athletes from Europe/Eurasia were the most likely to report using tobacco (15.2%). Tobacco use was self-reported, sometimes in front of coaches, teammates, and family members, so it is likely actual tobacco use is higher than reported. Discussion: Many health promotion programs and materials are not accessible to people with ID, and this population is missed in most national health surveys and other surveillance efforts. It is imperative to make health promotion materials and programs accessible to people with ID and their families. Through HA screenings and family education forums, Special Olympics can serve an important role.

Learning Areas:
Assessment of individual and community needs for health education
Implementation of health education strategies, interventions and programs
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs

Learning Objectives:
Learners will be able to 1) Describe the Special Olympics Healthy Athletes screening program; 2) Discuss the prevalence of tobacco use among Special Olympics athletes, and 3) Discuss the importance of including people with intellectual disabilities and their families in health promotion programs.

Keywords: Tobacco, Disability

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am the Senior Manager of Research and Evaluation for Special Olympics and am responsible for managing the Healthy Athletes data. My MPH in epidemiology, experiences working at Special Olympics, and knowledge of the health of people with intellectual disabilities make me qualified to analyze these data and present on the results.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.