A test of two educational strategies for lowering blood cholesterol at the worksite

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Virginia Tech

One hundred and seventy male and female volunteers employed at Hubbell Lighting Inc., Christiansburg, Virginia were studied to determine the effectiveness of two alternative educational strategies for lowering elevated blood cholesterol by modifying the diet. Initially three hundred and twenty-eight employees were weighed and tested for elevated total blood cholesterol via a finger-stick procedure using a Reflotron. Two hundred of these employees had elevated total blood cholesterol readings (2: 200 mg/dl) and were invited to participate in the study. The one hundred and seventy employees who consented to participate were divided into plant and office populations and then each of these two subpopulations was then randomized by sex into one of three experimental groups: individuals receiving worksite classes, those who received information on diet and blood cholesterol mailed to their homes, or a control group. Prior to the baseline blood cholesterol test, subjects completed and returned a pre-test questionnaire used to obtain demographic data and assess baseline knowledge, dietary practices and health-relevant attitudes such as self-efficacy, perceived susceptibility to heart disease, and perceived social support. Subjects also completed a three-day food record on the first and eighth week of the study as well as a post-test questionnaire identical to the pre-test questionnaire prior to the second blood cholesterol test which was performed during the tenth week of the study. No significant differences were observed over the experimental period in body weight. knowledge, dietary practices, and health relevant attitudes. Significant differences were observed for the dependent measure of change in blood cholesterol with a group and education level effect identified between subjects receiving worksite classes vs. the control group (p = .0284**) and subjects with only a grade school level education vs. all other education levels (p = .0021 **). Overall. subjects reduced total blood cholesterol levels by 18 mg/dl or 9% with the mean reduction for white and blue-collar groups receiving worksite classes (23 mg/dl or 11% and 19 mg/dl or 9%) significantly greater than the mean reduction for the control groups (13 mg/dl or 6% and 14 mg/dl or 7%). Subjects with only a grade school education reduced their cholesterol levels more than subjects at all other educational levels. The mean reduction in blood cholesterol for subjects receiving information mailed to the home about diet and blood cholesterol was less than the mean reduction for subjects in groups receiving the worksite classes. However. ANOV A revealed that there was no statistically significant difference between these two groups. Since, the mailed home approach is less costly for the employer, these findings suggest that while the two educational interventions may be similar in terms of effectiveness, the mailed home approach is more cost-effective.