Rural Puerto Ricans Get Lessons in Self-Managing Chronic Diseases

Peer-based effort to improve health care for people with chronic conditions through education and self-management

The Corporación de Servicios de Salud y Medicina Avanzada (COSSMA), in Cidra, Puerto Rico, developed a chronic disease prevention and control project to reach into rural communities and help educate those with chronic illnesses (such as asthma, diabetes and high blood pressure) to manage their own care, rather than relying entirely on their physicians. COSSMA provided services at clinics, at homes and in communities.

The project was part of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) national program Local Funding Partnerships.

Key Results:

  • The chronic disease prevention and control project reached 991 patients (as of March 2004) through educational sessions designed to teach them how to manage their chronic conditions on their own.
  • The project served 192 diabetic, asthmatic and overweight children at five free summer camps during 2002, 2003 and 2004. Hundreds of other people with chronic conditions participated in health fairs and organized physical activity and education programs run by the project.
  • Project staff recruited and trained 59 peer mentors to go into rural communities and establish physical activity and education programs for those with chronic conditions. In many cases participants were not already clinic patients. During the grant period, 919 people attended community activity sessions organized by peer mentors.

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