RHA Howell To Participate In “Women Be Healthy” Study with UNC

April 30, 2010 (RALEIGH, NC) — Sam Hedrick, president of RHA Howell, Inc., is pleased to announce that the women in RHA’s Charlotte group homes and Lumberton Family Alternatives services, and those served by the organization’s day programs in those cities, will participate in the groundbreaking “Women Be Healthy” program with the North Carolina Office on Disability & Health (NCODH) and the UNC-Chapel Hill School of Social Work.

RHA is a statewide, not-for-profit organization that was been helping people with disabilities and their families for 35 years. “Women Be Healthy” (WBH) is a curriculum developed to enable women with developmental disabilities to become more active participants in their own health care, with the primary emphasis on breast and cervical cancer screenings.

NCODH, a program within UNC’s FPG Child Development Institute, and the UNC School of Social Work have received funding to conduct an evaluation of WBH curriculum. NCODH provides free training workshops on the use of the curriculum and all training materials. A study team at UNC-CH evaluates all activities around the curriculum, including tracking the receipt of health care services.

“Although we have strong preliminary data on positive student outcomes as a result of participation in Women Be Healthy classes, it is important that we conduct a longer term study on the impact of the WBH curriculum on the students’ health behaviors, especially the receipt of recommended preventive screenings,” said Karen Luken, project director, FPG Child Development Institute.

According to Luken, the study will evaluate the impact of the WBH intervention on four outcomes: (1) the sense of confidence and mastery of women related to their reproductive health care; (2) the knowledge of women regarding their health care; (3) actual receipt of health care services, including Pap tests and breast exams; and (4) anxiety of women related to their health care.

RHA Howell professionals who will be in charge of helping with the study are Alena Smith, Corporate Director of Nursing; Lee Ann Hoffner in Charlotte; Alice Smith and Tammy McFayden in Lumberton; and Eric Gabriel, RHA’s director of clinical policy, who will provide corporate oversight.

“We’re very excited to be participating in this program and recognize the great potential benefit it could have for the women we support,” Hedrick said, noting that women with physical and intellectual disabilities are very challenged to receive proper care in reproductive health services for a host of reasons, including the inability to access mammography equipment and anxiety issues.

For more information on the NCODH and Women Be Healthy program, go to www.fpg.unc.edu/~ncodh/WomensHealth/index.cfm.

For more information on RHA Howell, Inc., visit www.rhahowell.org.

About RHA Howell, Inc.:

RHA Howell is a not-for-profit 501 (c) (3) organization that has been helping people with disabilities and special needs, and their families, make choices to live more independently for more than 35 years. Integrity, high standards for quality, hard work are at the core of every RHA Howell disability assistance program. Proven leaders in caring for people, RHA Howell, Inc. is a pioneering force in the field of human services, particularly supporting infants and children. For more information, go to www.rhahowell.org.

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