Public Health and Primary CareCOMMENTARY

Osteopathic Medicine and Community Health Fairs: Increasing Public Awareness While Improving Public Health

Heather M. Stamat, DO; K. Rejina Injety, DO; Dan Koop Liechty, PhD; Christopher A. Pohlod, DO; and Margaret I. Aguwa, DO, MPH
Notes and Affiliations
Notes and Affiliations

Received: October 10, 2005

Accepted: March 28, 2006

Published: August 1, 2008

J Osteopath Med; 108(8): 397-403

For members of the public, community health fairs are an opportunity to gather information and receive screening for a variety of common medical conditions. For the osteopathic medical community, they can be an opportunity to increase public awareness about osteopathic medicine. The authors conducted a survey at nine community-based health fairs in the Lansing, Mich, metropolitan area to determine public awareness of osteopathic medicine and to learn if event attendance later influenced attendees’ decisions to seek medical care. Between November 2001 and February 2003, health fair attendees (N=202) completed questionnaires and had their blood pressure, glucose level, and cholesterol level measured and their body mass index calculated. Approximately half of study participants received telephone follow-up within 60 days. At that time, participants were asked the same survey questions as well as whether they had sought follow-up medical care in the past 30 days. Survey results suggest that higher levels of education (P<.001) and annual household income (P<.001) correlate with increased awareness of osteopathic physicians. Preference for osteopathic physicians over allopathic physicians correlates with lower age (P<.001) and higher levels of education (P=.004). One third of participants reported seeking medical care in the past 30 days, but 79% of these individuals said their decisions were not influenced by health fair attendance. Health fairs are useful for increasing public knowledge about osteopathic medicine. The authors suggest that similar locally based promotion efforts target middle-aged individuals who do not have college degrees and belong to lower socioeconomic groups.

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