Healthquest Expands Program

By Sean Smith
Staff Writer

The HealthQuest Project, an innovative experiment at Boston College that combines medical information and World Wide Web technology, is moving into its next phase with programs in cardiovascular health and pre-natal care.

The Cardiovascular Disease Prevention program, open to administrators, faculty and staff of all ages, seeks participants wishing to assess their risk factors and learn about heart disease prevention. Women who are pregnant or are considering having a baby are invited to participate in the pre-natal program. Both programs are scheduled to begin later this summer.

These programs bring to five the number of initiatives that the HealthQuest Project has sponsored since last fall. The project, organized cooperatively with Brigham and Women's Hospital, is headed by Prof. Jeanne Guillemin (Sociology). The three-year study is testing the use of technology to promote preventive health care.

A HealthQuest Web site has been established to survey and inform targeted members of the BC community on selected health topics.

"We've been very encouraged by the results," said Guillemin. "We're finding that our participants, whether students or employees at the University, are increasingly computer-literate. In fact, people have been using e-mail to contact us with suggestions, so our Web page is constantly being updated. It's a truly interactive project."

During the past year, HealthQuest ran simultaneous programs on substance abuse awareness, sports injury prevention and breast cancer awareness. According to Guillemin, 103 women have completed the latter program's final stage and almost 20 percent indicated an improvement in self-care, she noted, especially with regard to breast examinations. The program also helped employees initiate a support group, she said.

The pilot sports injury program was tested on 120 undergraduates, 87 percent of whom were not varsity athletes. The program will be available again in September for returning students, as will the program on substance abuse. Data from the five programs will not be fully analyzed until next year, Guillemin said.

In addition to fostering greater health care awareness on campus, Guillemin said, the HealthQuest Project is working with the University's Faculty/Staff Assistance Program to promote participation in all the preventive programs.

For further information and to enroll in HealthQuest, call ext.2-0830 or e-mail aware@bc.edu.

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