The Impact of a Student-Led Health Education Clinic on the Health Literacy and Behaviors of a Rural Community in the State of Pennsylvania, USA

Hannah B. Short, Emma G. Guare, Katherine Spanos, Ema V. Karakoleva, Devika Patel, Nguyen Truong, Michael Huang, Erik Lehman, Megan Mendez-Miller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Rural populations experience a number of disparities that place them at increased risk of morbidity and mortality related to chronic disease, including lower health literacy and greater distance to medical care. Community-based free healthcare education can offer targeted preventive care to these vulnerable populations; however, limited quantitative research exists measuring their impact, specifically on health literacy and likelihood for behavior change. To investigate this, a student-led health education clinic was held in January 2023 in the rural community of Lykens, Pennsylvania by the Student-run and Collaborative Outreach Program for Health Equity (SCOPE). Fifty-five pre- and post-clinic surveys using Likert-style questions measured the knowledge and likelihood of behavioral change for several preventive health topics, including hypertension, diabetes mellitus, cancer screenings, childhood vaccinations, skin cancer, mental health, addiction, and nutrition. From pre- to post-clinic, there was a significant increase in knowledge of hypertension (p = 0.023) and diabetes (p = 0.014), likelihood of attending cancer screenings (p = 0.038), and confidence in identifying cancerous moles (p = < 0.001). There was a non-significant increase in understanding of mental health and nutrition, and no change in understanding of addiction or childhood vaccinations. It is likely that the level of interaction in education provided and relevance of information to participants contributed to effective uptake of information. The results demonstrate an immediate impact on health literacy and likelihood of behavioral change for several important preventive health topics, and advocate for the use of student-run healthcare interventions in addressing the prevalence of chronic disease in rural communities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)458-465
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Community Health
Volume49
Issue number3
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Health(social science)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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