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Blog Series: PRC Spotlight on Washington University in St. Louis and the University of South Carolina

Jun 05, 2024 | Johanna Segovia

The Prevention Research Center at Washington University in St. Louis (PRC at WashU): Adoption & Implementation of Evidence to Mobilize Local Health (AIM-Local Health) Project

In public health, evidence-based decision-making (EBDM) stands as a cornerstone for effective strategies in addressing chronic diseases. Recognizing the pivotal role of local health departments (LHDs) in this area, the Prevention Research Center at Washington University in St. Louis (PRC at WashU) along with collaborating LHDs embarked on a journey with the Adoption & Implementation of Evidence to Mobilize Local Health (AIM-Local Health) Project.

The AIM-Local Health Project aimed to empower LHDs with the tools and knowledge necessary to integrate EBDM into their operations. By fostering a culture rooted in scientific evidence and community engagement and insights, the project sought to enhance the effectiveness of chronic disease prevention and management efforts at the local level.

Over several years, PRC at WashU collaborated closely with 12 mid-to-large LHDs in Missouri, offering tailored training and technical assistance to develop EBDM plans aligned with each LHD’s priorities. Through a comprehensive approach encompassing program planning, quality improvement frameworks, community engagement, evaluation, and program adaptation, participating LHDs were equipped with the skills and tools to navigate the complexities of chronic disease prevention.

At the culmination of the project, PRC at WashU and the partner LHDs gleaned invaluable insights into the practices that bolster EBDM implementation. Six management practices emerged as instrumental in supporting EBDM within the context of local health departments. Moreover, the collaboration yielded additional recommendations poised to fortify the foundation of EBDM and elevate the impact of chronic disease prevention programs across communities.

To learn more about how your local health department can integrate EBDM and strengthen chronic disease prevention programs in your community, explore the AIM-Local Health resources below.

Contact Information

Peg Allen, PhD
Research Assistant
[email protected]

Renee Parks, MS, PhD
Senior Research Manager
[email protected]

Leveraging Community and Faith-Based Partnerships for Health: The USC Prevention Research Center’s FAN Program

In the ongoing battle against chronic diseases and health disparities, community partnerships have emerged as powerful tools for change. One shining example of this collaborative approach is the Faith, Activity, and Nutrition (FAN) program spearheaded by the University of South Carolina Prevention Research Center (USC PRC). This initiative, designed to train churches to support and promote physical activity and healthy eating among their congregants, not only yielded promising results but also showcased the potential of leveraging faith-based organizations as allies in chronic disease prevention efforts.

The FAN program, grounded in a community-based participatory approach, initially unfolded within the 7th Episcopal District of the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church, which encompasses South Carolina. Through this grassroots endeavor, significant improvements in leisure-time physical activity and fruit and vegetable intake were observed, underscoring the program’s effectiveness in fostering healthier lifestyles with underserved communities.

Building on this success, the FAN program was subsequently expanded across local churches in South Carolina, facilitated by partnerships with the South Carolina Conference of the United Methodist Church and a county coalition in Fairfield County, South Carolina. With continued support from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the USC PRC embarked on a national implementation study to disseminate the FAN program using a web-based approach, amplifying its reach and impact.

Central to the success of the FAN program is the collaboration cultivated between local health departments (LHDs) and faith-based organizations. The National Association of County and City Health Officials 2022 Profile Report highlights the prevalence of partnerships between LHDs and faith communities, with over 90% of LHDs engaging with religious institutions in some capacity. Notably, formal partnerships, characterized by shared personnel, resources, and written agreements, have seen a significant uptick, reflecting a growing recognition of the value of such collaborations in advancing public health objectives.

Despite this progress, the 2021 Physical Activity Report reveals a gap in fully harnessing the potential of faith-based communities as key partners in physical activity initiatives, with only 5% of LHDs citing them as such. However, there exists a palpable desire among LHDs to enhance their collaboration with faith-based organizations, with 20% expressing interest in expanding this partnership to bolster physical activity efforts.

In this landscape, evidence-based resources like the FAN program present a compelling opportunity for LHDs and faith-based organizations to synergize their efforts and maximize their collective impact. By tapping into the extensive networks and trusted platforms offered by religious institutions, public health interventions can penetrate deeper into communities, effectively reaching and engaging larger populations.

Moreover, the availability of the FAN Online Training, facilitated by the Health Ministries Association (HMA), further enhances the program’s accessibility and inclusivity, ensuring that diverse communities can benefit from its insights and strategies. FAN training resources are now available in Spanish for download.

The USC Prevention Research Center’s FAN program stands as a beacon of what can be achieved when communities, academia, and faith-based organizations join forces in pursuit of a healthier, more equitable future. Click the links below to learn more about USC PRC, FAN, and access the materials.

Contact Information

Sara Wilcox, PhD
Director, Prevention Research Center
[email protected]


About Johanna Segovia

Johanna is a senior program analyst, community health at NACCHO.

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