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Core health messages (CHM)

The overall objective of the Core Health Messages project is to improve the health outcomes of rural, low-income families with children and of the communities in which they live.

Specific goals of CHM include:
  1. Develop, test, refine Core Health Messages through four learner focused methods (forums, focus groups, individual interviews, and an Extension Education program).
  2. Engage diverse and representative members or low-income, rural families and rural communities in tailing the content, style, and delivery method of Core Health Messages.
  3. Evaluate all processes and effectiveness of Core Health Messages.
  4. Disseminate project findings and Core Health Messages through various online avenues including Extension Communities of Practice, profession presentations, articles, and briefs.

CHM project was supported by the Rural Health and Safety Education Competitive Program of the USDA Cooperative State Research Education and Extension Service, National Institute of Food and Agriculture grant number, 2010-46100-21791. For more information, contact Sheila Mammen (see State Partners).

Collaborative, learner-driven Core Health Messages (CHMs) were created using findings from the analyses of interview and focus group data. Rural, low-income mothers who were interviewed personally preferred CHMs that were of moderate length and presented by an authority figure.  Mothers who participated in a focus group, on the other hand, expressed a preference for CHMs that were short and included the voice of a mother just like them i.e. a peer. The final set of CHMs, shown below, is the result of additional refinement and further testing with mothers.

A total of 12 CHMs were developed in the areas of food security, health insurance, oral health, and physical health. There are four iterations of each of the CHMs: (1) CHMs using the voice of an authority, in English; (2) CHMs using the voice of a peer, in English; (3) CHMs using the voice of an authority, in Spanish; and (4) CHMs using the voice of a peer, in Spanish

For CHMs in English, please see below.  For CHMs in Spanish, please click here.

CORE HEALTH MESSAGES ON FOOD SECURITY

In the voice of an authority

  • Message 1 on keeping a grocery list: As a health educator, I recommend keeping a grocery list through the week or month leading to a trip to the grocery store. Buying what you need will help you save time and money.
  • Message 2 on grocery shopping being a learning opportunity: Grocery shopping can be a learning opportunity for children. As a health educator, I recommend you create a game for your kids who are able to read, where they find a cereal with at least 4 grams of food shoppingprotein and very little sugar. You could create other games where your younger children can also learn to how to make healthy choices.

In the voice of a peer

  • Message 1 on keeping a grocery list: A health educator recommended I keep a grocery list through the week or month leading to a trip to the grocery store. As a busy mother, I find that buying only what I need helps save time and money.
  • Message 2 on grocery shopping being a learning opportunity:Grocery shopping can be a learning opportunity for children. A health educator recommended I create a game for my older kids to find a cereal with at least 4 grams of protein and very little sugar. I created other games to help my younger children learn how to make healthy choices.

 

CORE HEALTH MESSAGES ON HEALTH INSURANCE

In the voice of an authority

  • Message 1 on children’s health insurance: When I talk to parents, as a Head Start teacher, I tell them about the State Children’s Health Insurance Plan, SCHIP. Whether you call a toll free number or do it online, it is easy to sign up for SCHIP. This will help you get health insurance for your kids at no cost to them and also reduce the cost of doctor’s fees and prescriptions. You can get more information about SCHIP at your local health department.
  • Message 2 on family health insurance: As a social worker, I advise my clients to sign up for Medicaid while they look for a job. You can go to the Medicaid website to find the state application at www.medicaid.gov. If approved, you will be relieved to know you do not have to worry about the total cost if you get sick. You can use Medicaid to cover most health costs.
  • Message 3 on low-cost prescriptions: As a WIC case worker, I tell my clients that they can get free or health insurancelow-cost prescriptions. By calling 211, you can get more information including a number to call to sign up. It is fast and easy.

In the voice of a peer

  • Message 1 on children’s health insurance: A Head Start teacher told me about the State Children’s Health Insurance Plan, SCHIP. I could call a toll free number or enroll online. Even for a busy mom like me, it was quick and easy to sign up for SCHIP and get health insurance for my kids at no cost. Now I can better afford the doctor’s fees and prescriptions.
  • Message 2 on family health insurance: When I lost my health insurance because I was laid off, a social worker said I could sign up for Medicaid while I look for a job. I was relieved to know I could use Medicaid to cover most of my health costs if I got sick. It was easy to find my state application on the Medicaid website at www.medicaid.gov.
  • Message 3 on low-cost prescriptions: A WIC case worker told me how to get free or low-cost prescriptions. Even for a busy mom like me, it was fast and easy. I called 211 and got the information I needed including a number to call to sign up.

CORE HEALTH MESSAGES ON ORAL HEALTH

In the voice of an authority

  • Message 1 on preventing cavities: As a dentist, I see a lot of cavities in rural children.  Tooth decay hurts and will cost you money and time. Fluoride prevents cavities. But many rural water sources do not have fluoride added. I recommend that mothers buy bottled water and toothpaste with fluoride added to prevent cavities.
  • Message 2 on fluoride: As a dentist, I hear some people say that fluoride is not good for them. I tell them very few people get too much fluoride. You are likely to get tooth decay if you don't have fluoride in your water and toothpaste even if you brush regularly.  I know from studies that fluoride is safe and effective in preventing tooth decay in both children and adults.
  • Message 3 on sealants: As a dentist, I recommend children have sealants put on their 6 year molars, the big teeth in the back. Sealants keep out germs and food to prevent cavities. It is cheaper to pay for sealants than for fillings and is certainly less painful for children.oral health
  • Message 4 on the prevention of tooth decay: The prevention of tooth decay begins early. As a dentist, I recommend cleaning a baby’s teeth with a clean soft cloth or a baby toothbrush before bedtime every day.  Looking for white spots will catch the beginning of cavities. With good dental habits, your baby with have a healthy mouth and a nice smile.

In the voice of a peer

  • Message 1 on preventing cavities: As a mother, I don’t want my kids to have cavities like I did. Our dentist said that fluoride prevents cavities but rural water sources lack fluoride. As recommended by our dentist, I buy bottled water with fluoride and toothpaste with fluoride to prevent painful and costly tooth decay.
  • Message 2 on fluoride: I thought that fluoride wasn't good for me. I brushed regularly but I got cavities. My dentist explained that fluoride in water and toothpaste is safe and effective in preventing tooth decay for me and for my children. I've decided to use toothpaste with fluoride.
  • Message 3 on sealants: When my oldest child got his 6 year molars, the big teeth in the back, my dentist urged me to have sealants put on them because brushing his teeth with fluoride is not enough to prevent tooth decay. Sealants keep out germs and food. Even though I am pinched for money, I know it is cheaper to pay for sealants now than fillings later and certainly less painful for my child.
  • Message 4 on the prevention of tooth decay: I learned from my dentist that I should start cleaning my baby’s teeth with a clean, soft cloth or a baby toothbrush before bedtime every day. The dentist also showed me how to look for ‘white spots’ which could be the beginnings of cavities. As a mother, I’m so glad to learn I’m protecting my baby from cavities.

 

CORE HEALTH MESSAGES ON PHYSICAL HEALTH

 In the voice of an authority

  • Message 1 on being physically active: I am a doctor who tells my patients to be more physically active. It is okay for you to break the physical activity into small amounts at a time, such as, walking to the mailbox or a short distance from a parked car to the store. I suggest they include their kids in physical activity. This would help to create family time and an opportunity to be active together.
  • Message 2 on eating fruits and vegetables: Your local farmer’s market may accept WIC vouchers. Buying fresh, local fruits and vegetables allows you to get food your kids would eat as well as something healthy for your family. When these foods are not in season, you can use vouchers to buy them frozen at your grocery store. This way, you pay less and you can eat fruits and vegetables all year round.
  • Message 3 on feeling good about your body: As a nutrition educator, I tell mothers that you can feel good when you eat healthy food. For example, take a simple step by eating oatmeal instead of a donut.  Readingphysical healthfood labels will help you choose healthy foods that have whole grains or are lower in sugars. Plus, feeding your kids a healthy breakfast will also help them feel good at school.

In the voice of a peer

  • Message 1 on being physically active: My doctor said I could be more physically active by breaking activity into small amounts at a time, such as, walking to the mailbox or a short distance from my parked car to the store. And, I include my kids in physical activity because it is family time and an opportunity to be active together.
  • Message 2 on eating fruits and vegetables: My local farmer’s market accepts WIC vouchers. A health educator taught me to look for fresh, local fruits and vegetables. As a mom, I want to buy food that is healthy and that my kids will eat. When these foods are not in season, I use vouchers to buy them frozen at my grocery store. This way, I pay less and can eat fruits and vegetables all year round.
  • Message 3 on feeling good about your body: As a busy mom, I need energy and I feel good when I eat healthy food. My doctor suggested simple steps such as eating oatmeal instead of a donut and reading food labels to help choose foods that have whole grains or are lower in sugar. Plus, feeding my kids a healthy breakfast helps them feel good at school.
This website was supported by the Rural Health and Safety Education Competitive Program of the USDA Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service, grant numbers 2010-46100-21791 and 2011-46100-31135.