The Effect of Health Fair Attendance on Attitudes Toward Health
Introduction: Health census data from the past decade demonstrates high rates of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and obesity in Kalamazoo County. In order to understand opportunities for bettering the health of Kalamazoo County, we assessed the impact of local health fairs on individuals’ intent to improve their health. Objective: To assess the effect of health fair attendance on individuals’ attitudes towards their own health. Methods: We administered a pre- and post- survey to attendees of the Boys and Girls Club’s Be Fit Health Festival. Upon entry to the fair, attendees completed a survey detailing their health behaviors and attitudes. Participants completed a second survey when exiting. The exit survey addressed participants’ intent to positively change health behaviors and barriers to health. A number identifier administered to each participant allowed pairing of entry and exit survey responses. SAS 9.4 was used to perform all statistical analyses. Survey items were compared pre- and post-health fair using McNemar’s analysis, and Chi-square test of independence was used to compare items within the post-survey. Wilcoxon rank sum test was used to compare median number of barriers with likelihood to see a doctor. Results: 75 total people completed the pre-fair survey, and 56 total people completed the post-fair survey. 19 exit surveys were missing, resulting in 56 total paired survey sets. Based on the McNemar’s Test, no significant difference (p value > 0.05) was found between participants’ responses upon entering and exiting the health fair, including items that addressed: self-rated health, intention to improve diet and exercise, intention to reduce tobacco and alcohol, and intention to visit a doctor. Conclusion: Health Fairs are utilized in a variety of populations for a number of reasons, including to screen, educate, and increase awareness of community resources. However, their true benefit is varied and inconsistently documented. In this study, participants of the Be Fit Health Festival completed pre- and post-fair questionnaires on their health attitudes and intentions. Health Fair attendance did not have a significant impact on attendees’ intent to change health behaviors including diet, exercise, tobacco use, alcohol use and/or intention to visit a doctor. To improve the efficacy of health fairs for a particular community, educational information, screening tools, and participating community organizations and services should be targeted to the health needs and disparities of the population at hand.