In America’s Health Rankings 2018 Annual Report, Kentucky ranked 45 out of 50 in the nation’s healthiest states, signifying the poor overall health of the state.1 Additional statistics show that rural areas of Kentucky, especially the Appalachian region, face some of the highest rates of health disparities in the state and nation. Associated social, environmental, and health risk factors in this population further complicate matters, resulting in a higher prevalence of chronic diseases.

Although chronic diseases can cause serious complications, most disease risk factors can be prevented or controlled. Evidence-based self-management education models, such as the Chronic Disease Self-Management Program (CDSMP), Diabetes Self-Management Program (DSMP), and Walk With Ease, may provide a solution to address the growing chronic disease epidemic. In these programs, participants receive self-management education for a variety of chronic diseases, including diabetes and arthritis, to improve and manage their health conditions.

Led and trained by registered nurses, community health workers (CHWs) incorporate these self-management programs into the communities they serve and provide a supportive role by interacting with participants before, during, and after each session to aid in successful completion rates and improved health outcomes. One such CHW program, Kentucky Homeplace, has been providing self-management education since its inception in 1994, and began integrating CDSMP, DSMP, and Walk With Ease into the community in 2015.

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A poster presentation at the National Rural Health Association 42nd Annual Rural Health Conference in Atlanta, GA.