Online Program

Facilitating Organizational Change to Promote Health of People with Developmental Disabilities

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Jana Peterson-Besse, MPH, PhD, Department of Social Work and Public Health, Pacific University, Forest Grove, OR
George Gotto IV, PhD, Institute for Human Development, UCEDD, University of Missouri - Kansas City, Kansas City, MO
Amanda George, MS, Developmental Disability Services of Jackson County - eitas, Kansas City, MO
People with developmental disabilities have higher rates of obesity than does the general population. Contributing to obesity are low levels of physical activity and consumption of high calorie diets. Environments have a major impact on health and the practice of healthy behaviors. For adults with developmental disabilities who receive supported living services, policies and practices of agencies providing these services can promote or hinder health behaviors. In addition, policies and practices of community-based organizations and businesses, such as fitness and recreation facilities, can similarly affect health behaviors. In Jackson County, Missouri, a community coalition was created to address such environmental determinants of nutrition and physical activity participation for local residents with developmental disabilities through changes to policies and practices. One activity of the coalition was to create a process of internal policy and practice review to motivate organizational change. With support from a university partner, six coalition partner agencies conducted internal reviews of policies and practices that could influence health behaviors and implemented resulting work plans. Process evaluation indicated that within six months, each participating agency had implemented or initiated at least one policy or practice change, and five of six agencies made at least three changes. Examples of implemented changes include increased support for individual wellness goals, staff training to improve healthy food availability, and increased opportunities for community-based exercise and recreation participation. Process evaluation further indicates increased awareness among agency employees of the links between organizational policies, healthy environments, and the health of individuals the agencies serve.

Learning Areas:

Chronic disease management and prevention
Implementation of health education strategies, interventions and programs
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Public health or related organizational policy, standards, or other guidelines

Learning Objectives:
Describe a successfully piloted process for facilitating organizational change to promote health of people with developmental disabilities who receive services from those organizations. Explain the relationship between organizational policies, healthy environments, and health of individuals with disabilities in the community.

Keyword(s): Disabilities, Community-Based Partnership & Collaboration

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have my PhD in public health and completed a postdoc fellowship in disability and health. I worked on the project discussed in this abstract, including designing the tool for facilitating organizational change, while in a previous position in Kansas City.
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.