Background on Group Education
What are group education strategies?
- Intervention strategies used to increase knowledge, skills, self-efficacy and support related to heart disease and stroke prevention, management and rehabilitation behaviors (e.g., lifestyle changes to reduce weight or increase healthy behaviors, seeing physician regularly, monitoring and taking medications to regulate blood pressure and cholesterol).
- These strategies are designed to provide information, training, resources and support to individuals through group sessions and interactions that are typically facilitated by trained health instructors or facilitators (e.g., dieticians, exercise physiologists, health educators). Group education interventions may include presentations as well as individual or group activities that occur in classrooms or conference rooms of schools, worksites, community centers, , day care centers, homes, faith-based organizations or camps depending on the population and focus of the intervention.
- Guided by a detailed curriculum, these interventions can:
- increase knowledge and detection of signs and symptoms related to heart disease, heart attack and stroke;
- promote behavior change to prevent heart disease and stroke (e.g., increasing skills and self-efficacy related to healthy eating, physical activity, tobacco cessation); and
- minimize the impact of heart disease and stroke by improving knowledge, skills, and behaviors related to self-management and rehabilitation (e.g., increasing skills and self-efficacy related to monitoring blood pressure and cholesterol, medication compliance); and
- provide social support through relationships formed in the group as well as referrals to other resources in the community.
How can I use group education strategies in heart disease and stroke interventions?
- For many individuals, the group is a natural setting. People are often taught in groups, live in groups and play in groups. Social interaction can be a key aspect of the developmental process as individuals learn by observing others and the results of their actions.
- Group education interventions may help to change behaviors in order to prevent heart disease and stroke from occurring (primary prevention), or work with those who have already developed heart disease or stroke to decrease the negative effects of that condition through changing behaviors or rehabilitation (secondary prevention).
- Group education interventions can be most effective if they take into consideration both individual characteristics (e.g., knowledge, skills) and group circumstances (e.g., social norms, peer pressure). For example, it may be more helpful to have different group members talk about how monitoring their blood pressure levels helped them to feel a greater sense of control of their health, as opposed to simply describing the process of monitoring blood pressure.
- Previous work has suggested that group education strategies may work best when combined with strategies that act to create changes in policies, environments, support, or awareness related to heart disease and stroke (see Campaigns and Promotions and Environments and Policies for Heart Disease and Stroke). For example, group education strategies may enable participants to develop buddy systems that provides emotional support that supports lifestyle changes including weight management, provide referrals to places to access healthy foods or get physical activity or give incentives such as nicotine replacement gum as part of a larger tobacco cessation campaign.
- The content of the group education curricula may include: information (e.g., risk factors, signs and symptoms, ways to monitor blood pressure and cholesterol levels, medications, tobacco use, nutrition and physical activity), skill-building (e.g., food purchasing and preparation, physical activity as part of daily living, tobacco cessation, self-management of medication, relaxation training and stress management) and support and resources (e.g., changing family eating patterns, getting a walking partner, obtaining referrals for support groups).
What are the different types of group education strategies?
- Group education for heart disease and stroke prevention or management may be incorporated into existing classes (e.g., health or physical education classes in schools, cooking classes in a local grocery store), training sessions (e.g., aerobics classes at a recreation center, stress management training in a worksite) or support groups (e.g., Alcoholics Anonymous).
- Group education for heart disease and stroke prevention or management may be an independent class or training session that can be offered in multiple settings (e.g., worksites, senior living facilities, faith-based organizations).
- Group education can be designed to meet the needs of general audiences or specific groups (e.g., “targeted messages”).
- Groups set up primarily for heart disease and stroke prevention or for those who are at high risk for heart disease and stroke (e.g., education or skills training to increase knowledge of CVD signs, symptoms and risk factors; encourage balanced nutritious eating patterns, regular physical activity, and quitting tobacco use in order to minimize risk of getting heart disease).
- Groups set up for management and concerns for individuals who have heart disease and their improvement (e.g., education or skills training to help individuals monitor and regulate their blood pressure and cholesterol levels or lose weight).
- Groups related to general life adjustments, self-management and lifestyle (e.g., education or skills training for relaxation and stress management, balanced nutritious eating patterns, regular physical activity, and quitting tobacco use).
- Groups with other quality of life concerns such as improved appearance (e.g., weight management), increased energy or supported spiritual beliefs (e.g., connection between physical, mental and spiritual health).
With whom do I need to work to develop a group education strategy for my heart disease and stroke intervention?
- To develop your group education strategies or to determine the most appropriate curricula, it is often helpful to work with different community partners. Examples of potential partners include:
- Local health departments (e.g., health educators or providers)
- health care services (e.g., providers in clinics or hospitals)
- schools (e.g., teachers, coaches)
- community health coalitions
- civic organizations/ community organizations (e.g., Head Start, Boy/ Girl Scouts, YMCA, 4H Club)
- worksites (e.g.,Human Resource Directors, wellness staff)
- senior/ independent living facilities
- faith-based organizations
- neighborhood organizations and community members
- Arthritis Centers
- To promote and support your group education classes or training sessions, it is often helpful to work with other community partners. Examples of potential partners include:
- researchers and evaluators
- celebrities and professional athletes
- advocacy organizations (e.g., American Heart Association, clean air, green space preservation)
- elected officials/ policy-makers/ decision-makers/ community leaders
- government agencies (e.g., University Extension, regional planning commission, transportation, urban planning, WIC, food stamps, social services, parks and recreation, community development agencies and economic development organizations )
- consumer organizations (e.g., supermarkets, restaurants, gyms)
- producers, distributors, and manufacturers (e.g., food, tobacco, active/sedentary recreation)
- metropolitan centers
- media (e.g., newspaper, billboards, television, radio)
- communications or advertising agencies
- Assisted Living Centers
- Faith-Based Groups and Organizations