McMaster University

McMaster University

Faculty of
Health Sciences

McMaster-born health promotion program celebrated

By Thana Dharmarajah
Published: March 18, 2013
Lisa Dolovich
Lisa Dolovich, an associate professor in the Department of Family Medicine and a member of the team that developed CHAP

A community-based health promotion program developed at McMaster University is being honoured for Canadian health research excellence.

The Cardiovascular Health Awareness Program (CHAP) is designed to support the prevention of cardiovascular disease and stroke by providing free, risk assessment sessions to the public. The program has won the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the Canadian Medical Association Journal Top Canadian Achievements in Health Research Awards.

"We're over the moon at receiving this prestigious award for a program that we know will have ongoing success at allowing Canadians to take an active part in monitoring their own health," said Lisa Dolovich, an associate professor in the Department of Family Medicine and a member of the team that developed CHAP.

To start the program, family physicians in 20 mid-sized Ontario communities invited nearly 16,000 people 65 or older to attend risk assessment sessions held at 129 local pharmacies over a 10-week period in 2006. More than 500 peer-trained volunteers met with patients, checked their blood pressure, reviewed the warning signs of stroke and heart attack, looked at risk factors and promoted blood pressure control and healthy living. This information was then transferred to the patient and their family physician and pharmacist.  Research on the program showed a nine per cent reduction in hospital admissions for cardiovascular disease for seniors in communities where the program was held.

The program, which started in 2000, continues in communities across Ontario.  There are plans to expand CHAP in Ontario, Quebec and other provinces.

The five winners for the Top Canadian Achievements in Health Research Awards were selected by a peer-review panel of Canadian and international experts who looked for discoveries and innovations that had the biggest impact on the health of people in Canada and around the world.

Dolovich was a member of the team that developed the awareness program along with Lehana Thabane and Ron Goeree, both professors in the Department of Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics; Cheryl Levitt, professor in the Department of Family Medicine and Rolf Sebaldt, associate clinical professor in the Medicine. Larry Chambers, now at the Élisabeth Bruyère Research Institute, and Janusz Kaczorowski, now of the University of Montreal, also co-lead the program.

Research is now being done on how community partnerships have developed to deliver the CHAP program. As well, a pilot program has started for paramedics to deliver a modified version of CHAP.

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