AstraZeneca HealthCare Foundation Highlights Effective Community Programs for Heart Health

Cumulative “Lessons Learned” Shared at American Public Health Association’s Annual Meeting 

The AstraZeneca HealthCare Foundation (AZHCF), in partnership with The Center for Social and Economic Policy Research (CSEPR) at West Chester University of Pennsylvania, today released “Lessons Learned,” the collective and effective practices of outcomes-driven community health programs since the launch of the Connections for Cardiovascular HealthSM (CCH) program in 2010.

A moderated panel discussion at the American Public Health Association (APHA) 2016 Annual Meeting highlighted the analysis of more than five years of community-based cardiovascular programs with measureable outcomes, supported by grants from the Foundation’s CCH program. The learnings provide key strategies for effective practices in six innovative approaches. The goal is to share knowledge with other organizations interested in using similar approaches to improve cardiovascular health in their communities. The strategies were highlighted at the APHA panel discussion, Connections for Cardiovascular HealthSM: Innovations in Community-Based Approaches to Improving Cardiovascular Health.

James W. Blasetto, MD, MPH, FACC, Chairman of the AZHCF, said: “Community-based health programs are often challenging to develop, implement and measure their impact while still meeting the needs of the people they serve.  We have identified commonalities among effective programs that can be adopted by other organizations to help improve heart health in their communities.”

Dr. R. Lorraine Bernotsky, CSEPR Co-Founder and Professor of Public Policy & Administration, West Chester University said: “The Foundation’s commitment to rigorous measurement and external evaluation of program outcomes not only provides opportunities to enhance existing programs but also uncovers lessons and practices that can now be shared with other community organizations interested in pursuing similar cardiovascular health initiatives.”

The “Lessons Learned” have been gathered from over 50 cardiovascular community health programs implementing programs using six key innovative approaches including:

  • Leveraging Access for Uninsured/Underserved Participants to Improve CV Knowledge and Health
  • Bringing Programs to Participants
  • Educating Children to Serve as Heart Health Ambassadors
  • Improving CV Health through Food-Based Programs
  • Using Health Coaches/Promotores to Improve CV Health
  • Providing Culturally Sensitive Programs to Maximize Participant Outcomes

“Lessons Learned” include:

  1. COMMUNITY NEEDS AND BARRIERS -- Identify the urgent/unmet need and barriers to care within the community and engage and empower community stakeholders to take an active role in the design and implementation of the program.
  2. PROGRAM DESIGN -- Design the program to address the community’s urgent/unmet need; include a recruiting plan that effectively reaches the target population; plan realistic, progressive steps and activities that adhere to a timeline for meeting the program’s goals and objectives; and include opportunities for quality participant contact throughout the program.
  3. DEFINE AND MEASURE SUCCESS -- Define realistic, measureable outcome goals from the start with a clear definition of success; incorporate multiple data collection points to assess impact and make mid-course corrections; use an outside evaluator or experienced staff member to evaluate on an ongoing basis.
  4. COMPREHENSIVE CARE THROUGH PARTNERSHIPS -- Provide comprehensive services and team-based coordinated care to meet the multi-faceted needs of participants; build community partnerships to address gaps in service and create a system for referrals.
  5. BRING PROGRAMS TO PARTICIPANTS -- Develop innovative methods for reaching potential participants “where they are” including taking programs on the road through mobile clinics or meeting community members where they live, work and frequent.
  6. PROVIDE ACCESS -- Provide a “medical home” or develop partnerships with existing systems of donated care for uninsured participants. Provide access to affordable, healthy food such as through farmers’ markets or community gardens, and incentivize participants through redemption programs or vouchers for healthy purchases.
  7. CULTURALLY SENSITIVE INTERVENTIONS -- Incorporate culturally competent education and activities into the program’s design.
  8. HEALTH COACHES -- Deploy local health coaches or health promotores who are community experts and neighborhood peers who share the same cultural values, experiences and traditions as participants. Empower youth and teens to take active roles in sharing health knowledge with families and communities.
  9. EMPOWER PARTICIPANTS -- Educate patients on self-management techniques that promote personal responsibility and empower and motivate them to take charge of their own health and set their own behavior change and CV health improvement goals; provide incentives to recognize efforts and achievements of goals.
  10. PROGRAM SUSTAINABILITY -- Plan for program sustainability from the start, define what success looks like, and carry out sustainability activities on an ongoing basis.


About The Center for Social and Economic Policy Research, West Chester University of Pennsylvania
The Center for Social and Economic Policy Research was founded in 1998 and has served numerous nonprofit agencies, universities and school districts, corporations, townships, and state and local government agencies. The mission of the Center is to provide up‐to‐date quantitative and qualitative research and evaluation services, combining superior service with academic expertise with the aim of serving the research needs of Southeastern Pennsylvania and the surrounding region.

About the AstraZeneca HealthCare Foundation
Established in 1993, the AstraZeneca HealthCare Foundation is a Delaware not-for-profit corporation and a 501(c)(3) entity organized for charitable purposes, including to promote public awareness of healthcare issues, to promote public education of medical knowledge and to support or contribute to charitable and qualified exempt organizations consistent with its charitable purpose.

Connections for Cardiovascular HealthSM (CCH) was launched in 2010 through a charitable contribution of $25 million from AstraZeneca. To date, the Foundation has provided over $19 million in grants to 47 organizations, funding 52 unique cardiovascular programs. Over 1.6 million people have been reached through the CCH program and over 51,000 participants have been tracked for progress toward improved cardiovascular health. For more information visit:

To download “Lessons Learned” and for media resources visit:


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MaryEllen O’Donohue: 917-804-5347