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Introduction: With the sustained growth of women using Veterans Affairs (VA) healthcare, health promotion and disease prevention programs need to address women’s unique bio-psychosocial concerns, encourage their engagement, and optimize program outcomes. This paper describes the development and evaluation of Women’s MOVE!, a gender-modified weight management program at one VA medical center. Factors associated with female Veteran participation in the program are reported, as well as comparisons of participation rates and weight change between these women and women participating in the regular, gender-neutral MOVE! program.
Methods: The MOVE! class content was gender-modified and fifteen female Veterans participated in an 8-session program. Within this group, Student’s t-tests were used to compare women who completed four or more sessions to those who participated less. The overall rate of participation of this group was compared to those of 14 women participating in the regular MOVE! program, as well as changes in weight.
Results: Among Women’s MOVE! participants, seven (47%) engaged in four or more sessions, while 8 (53%) participated less. Women who participated more fully had higher scores on the Weight Management Ability Scale (p = .00) and the SF-36 mental health subscale (marginally significant, p =.07) at baseline, compared to those who participated less. Between groups comparisons revealed a higher rate of participation among women enrolled in regular MOVE! (p=.007) compared to those in the Women’s MOVE!, and no difference in weight change.
Conclusions: Results revealed variable participation in a women-only weight management program, and lower participation rates compared to that of regular programming. Future research can formally assess factors that support as well as those that hinder female Veteran participation in weight management and other health promotion, disease prevention programs, in order to inform more optimal program development and engagement efforts.
Key Words: Veteran, women, overweight, obesity, prevention, health promotion
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