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Adoption of a Tai Chi Program for Fall Prevention by Rural Faith-Based Organizations

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July 25, 2016 -
Older adults (older than 65) are at high risk for falls. Translating evidence-based, community-delivered, fall-prevention exercise programs into new settings is a public health priority.

West Virginia University conducted a community engagement project in West Virginia to evaluate the adoption of a Tai Chi exercise program, Tai Ji Quan: Moving for Better Balance, by rural faith-based organizations (FBOs) and exercise instructors by recruiting 20 FBOs and 20 or more exercise instructors and by obtaining input from key stakeholders (representatives of FBOs, community representatives, exercise instructors) regarding potential barriers and facilitators to program adoption.

The project used both multistage, purposeful random sampling and snowball sampling to recruit FBOs and exercise instructors in 7 West Virginia counties. Two forums were held with stakeholders to identify barriers and facilitators to program adoption. The project team calculated separate adoption rates for organizations and exercise instructors.

It took up to 3 months to recruit each FBO with an adoption rate of 94%. The team made 289 telephone calls, sent 193 emails and 215 letters, distributed brochures and flyers to 69 FBOs, held 118 meetings, and made 20 trips over a period of 31 days (8,933 miles traveled). Nineteen of 22 trained exercise instructors started classes, an instructor adoption rate of 86%. Key issues regarding adoption were the age requirement for participants, trust, education, and competing priorities.

Although the team had recruitment challenges, their adoption rates were similar to or higher than those reported in other studies, and the objectives of the community engagement project were met. Clustering the FBOs and having them located closer geographically to the project's location may have reduced the resource use, and using a recruitment coordinator from the local community may have enabled the team to gain the trust of congregants and clergy support.

The team shared their results in the July 2016 issue of Preventing Chronic Disease.


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