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OHSU Nurse-Researchers Study Exercise for Rural Men and Women

   Portland, Ore.

Lack of exercise is killing people. People who prefer the couch to the track are more at risk for obesity, diabetes, cancer and heart disease to name just a few results of a sedentary lifestyle. But what motivates people to get moving?

Two new studies by Oregon Health & Science University researchers will study exercise and rural adults. One study, "CHOICE by Phone: Encouraging Exercise in Rural Adults," will enroll 76 underactive men and women aged 25 and older living in rural communities.

"The study will be our first opportunity to actually see whether adults in rural Oregon are more or less active than the general population. Obesity, cardiovascular disease, type II diabetes, and some cancers have been linked to lack of activity, and rural adults have higher rates of these chronic illnesses. However, most research has been based on studies in urban populations. This study is innovative because we will reach people in rural communities in Oregon who aren't usually asked to participate in research studies. The data gathered will help us design future larger studies based on the needs and preferences of people living in rural communities. We hope to learn what motivates people to begin exercising," said Jill Bennett, Ph.D., R.N., principal investigator, assistant professor, OHSU School of Nursing.

Study participants will be recruited by clinicians in four rural Oregon communities. Participants will be divided into two groups: a CHOICE group and a control group. Both groups will receive monthly telephone calls, but the CHOICE group will receive specialized counseling during their call that will help them solve problems that keep them from exercising. The control group will only receive a call about their physical activities, without the counseling.

Health professionals at the four Oregon rural clinics that will collaborate in the six-month study include: Kathryn Grace, P.A., Pine Eagle Clinic, Halfway; Sheila Maurer, F.N.P., Rogue River Health Clinic, Rogue River; Muriel Shaul, A.N.P.- C., Ph.D., Union Family Health Center, Union; and Theresa Russell, F.N.P., Winding Waters Clinic, Enterprise.

Co-investigators of the CHOICE study include Lillian Nail, Ph.D., R.N., F.A.A.N., the Dr. May Rawlinson Distinguished Professor; and Heather Young, Ph.D., G.N.P., F.A.A.N., Grace Phelps Distinguished Professor and director of Rural Health Research Development, both OHSU School of Nursing. The research is funded by a $100,000 grant from the National Cancer Institute at the National Institutes of Health.

The other research project, "Heart-to-Heart," is a pilot study designed to increase exercise in rural women. A group of 46 women, previously inactive, are participating in the study. There are two groups in the study. The Heart-to-Heart group focuses on both individual and group activities. Individual activities include an initial counseling session and weekly booster sessions using an individually tailored approach to exercise counseling. Group-based activities include exercising together weekly and developing a support network. The control group focuses on individual activities only and includes an initial counseling session and monthly booster sessions that are not individualized. The study, which is taking place in Polk County, began in June and will be completed this month.

"I want to examine the amount of change in the Heart-to-Heart group in relation to the combined effect of the individually tailored exercise counseling and the social support of the group activity. We want to know what gets rural women exercising and how to keep them active," said Cindy Perry, M.S., R.N., F.N.P., principal investigator, instructor, OHSU School of Nursing. The research is Perry's dissertation project for her doctoral degree. It is funded by $24,100 from the National Institutes of Health Office of Research on Women's Health, and the National Institute of Nursing Research, Northwest Health Foundation, Sigma Theta Tau, Beta Psi chapter, and the OHSU School of Nursing Dean's Dissertation Award.

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