Online Program

Innovative peer led preconception workshops for at-risk youth in Boston

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Emily Vishnja, Candidate for BS, Bouve College of Health Sciences, Northeastern University, Burlington, VT
Julia Kantner, Candidate for BS, Bouve College of Health Sciences, Northeastern University, Rochester, MA
Infant mortality rates among African American babies are at least twice as high as those of the non-Hispanic white population; disparities are even greater for teens, being unmarried, having an unplanned pregnancy, and living in poverty. The life course theory with a focus on preconception health has been identified as a key strategy to improve perinatal outcomes and decrease these gaps. In 2013, the Preconception Peer Educator (PPE) OMH-certified Northeastern University's Health Disparities Student Collaborative (HDSC) students developed, implemented, and evaluated interactive workshops to educate and empower homeless/at-risk youth about health disparities, promote preconception health, and address modifiable risk factors at the Bridge Over Troubled Waters resource center in Boston. OMH-certified student leaders were trained to conduct them. This pilot program reached a self-selected population of at-risk 16-24 year-olds. Through pre-and-post workshop surveys the following questions were assessed: • Was there a change in the knowledge/attitudes/anticipated behaviors of the workshop participants? • Did participants plan to apply the information presented in their lives? • What barriers did participants identify that may prevent them from applying this knowledge and changing behaviors? • What ways can the messages be made more effective to the high risk youth? • Why did youth attend the workshop? The survey results and lessons learned will be presented, focusing on how to create more effective workshops, sustain outreach, and reach a larger community of at-risk youth. Public health implications for expanding partnerships between student groups and community organizations to promote preconception health awareness will be discussed.

Learning Areas:

Implementation of health education strategies, interventions and programs
Program planning

Learning Objectives:
Describe the benefits of a peer led intervention. Identify barriers to connecting with the target populations. Evaluate success of pilot program through student survey responses. Explain results of the preconception health pilot.

Keyword(s): Community Health Programs, Reproductive Planning

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am a Preconception Peer Educator (PPE) certified through the Office of Minority Health, HDSC member and leader of its PPE health committee. I led committee efforts to develop the preconception curriculum, train new educators, and implement and evaluate the workshops for at-risk/homeless youth in Boston.
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.