A Community Intervention: Interprofessional Experiences Addressing Healthy Eating and Physical Activity at Cardinal Wellness

Health Science 302 and 494 are courses that include senior majors completing their final semester of coursework before beginning their internships. The courses seek to highlight the skills necessary to delivery health education programs in a variety of settings, where micro-level (interpersonal interactions) and macro-level (organizational and mass-media) applications are emphasized. Many of the course objectives are achieved in the context of a semester-long group project, where each student is asked to identify a health problem and an appropriate audience, for which they develop a social marketing-driven health campaign. For the past ten years of implementation of the courses, the students have been asked to choose problems that fit within Healthy Campus 2020 objectives, focusing their efforts on problems relevant to college students on Ball State’s campus specifically. However, in reviewing the primary objectives of the course, an understanding of how to tailor strategies and messages to specific diverse populations as well as the importance of advocacy for protection and promotion of the public’s health at all levels of society are often difficult to complete within the boundaries of a college student audience for messages.

To respond to this challenge, across the fall semester, the students (36 in total) were asked to take part in an immersive learning experience where the primary audience were community members from the Cardinal Wellness program, and the health problems were selected based upon what was most relevant to the community. As part of their work, the students were embedded in a full community-based participatory research project directed by the interests of community members. We spent the early part of the semester discussing theoretical and practical foundations of community-based participatory research in public health settings in online live lectures. Due to the online delivery of instruction in the course and the absence of in-person “live” classes at Cardinal Wellness, the students weren’t able to complete observation hours on-site at the program. However, in lieu of this contact, the students were asked to listen to the taped recordings from two previous focus groups with Cardinal Wellness members. We then worked together in live lecture to devise a shortened list of health topics that seemed meaningful and matched to the interests of Cardinal Wellness members. From that list, each student selected a specific topic, discussed as relevant by community members, for their larger course project.

After students ranked their own interests, we created groups (unifying students around shared topics) that worked together to create their community-based social marketing plan. The eight topics included removing the stigma of menopause, incorporating at-home exercises in front of the television, clean eating on a budget, using grocery lists to guide healthy food purchase, food safety and cross-contamination, cervical cancer awareness, colon cancer screening and awareness, and safe sex practices for middle- and older-aged adults.  The plans were required to integrate community viewpoints as much as possible, including the use of focus group recordings and observations from the program’s social media site. The students also recruited for and conducted eight virtual focus groups with community members in early November. Cardinal Wellness participants were recruited using the program’s Facebook page and were compensated $10 for their participation, with eight different Cardinal Wellness members participating across groups. The groups were entirely orchestrated by students, including all communication with community members, moderation of the focus group, and coordination of compensation.

At the completion of the course, each student group was asked to orally present their written integrative summary. The summary featured a complete social marketing plan based on their insights from the focus groups, including an environmental analysis, problem analysis, target audience analysis, logic model featuring program goals and objectives, message design and positioning/branding justification, partnership analysis, and three required media deliverables. These included the storyboard for one video public service announcement, five social media posts, and one print material (a billboard, flyer, brochure, etc.).

The programs created as part of the class projects were implemented across the spring semester at Cardinal Wellness. Students in HSC 302 (Program Planning II – 24 students total) were asked to implement the social marketing programs designed by the 494 students, as part of the next integration of the Immersive Learning grant. In that, the social media content was published on the program’s Facebook page and print materials were distributed on site at Cardinal Wellness by students in the course during brief educational sessions.

Spring 2021 HSC 302 Students:

Hollyn Anderson, Brooke Cummins, Sarah Craft, Kaylen Underhill, Catie Ridley, Kayce Ingram, Emily Jones, Emily Gerbhardt, Jessica Guzman, Jessica Gilmore, Mackenzie Mundy, Nia Kimbrough, Camesia Davidson, Trinity Lee, Sydney Cardenas, Nikki Jennings, Sydney Sisson, Kaitlynn McIntyre, Morgan Friend, Olivia Supancik, Esther Grussing, Briana McCoy, Aerial Simmons


Dr Christina Jones, Nutrition and Health Science