Impact of Health Education on Women in Residential Substance Abuse Treatment: A Pilot Study

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There is limited knowledge on the assessment of health education needs in women who are in substance abuse treatment. This pilot study tests the use of a health education program designed to increase health knowledge among a small group of women in active treatment, living in a residential center. The USDHHS Office on Women's Health has published model guides for women's health education in A Lifetime of Good Health—Your Guide to Staying Healthy (2009) and the2009Women's Health Calendar (2008). The health education program EMPOWER was developed from these materials and presented to 16 women over a 7 week period. Impact was measured by (1) responses to a health perception survey (SF-36v2) before and after the intervention, and (2) review of weekly reflective journal entries. Findings suggest that women did have improved perceptions of health in important physical and mental health domains. This study also reveals a need for development of a more accurate tool for measuring health education. Women express fear and worry about the future in terms of health, and see their children as huge motivators for improving health. The USDHHS publications do provide a roadmap for women in high risk groups to guide self-care.

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