Telecare and Murrumbidgee PHN’s Partnership: EMPOWERing Patients on their Journey to Healthier Eating

The EMPOWER program spun out from Murrumbidgee Primary Health Network’s (MPHN) Pitch Night in 2022 and aimed to provide individuals dealing with or are vulnerable to obesity the essential knowledge and resources to make informed and health-conscious dietary decisions. Operating from March to May, this Telecare-run endeavour extended its reach to people within the MPHN catchment zone, drawing an impressive participation of over 100 enthusiastic individuals.  

Throughout the 12-week duration, EMPOWER delivered a systematic curriculum tailored to amplify participants' comprehension of nutrition and dietary selections. The initiative integrated an array of approaches to captivate participants, encompassing online educational sessions, interactive live Q&A sessions led by experts, and entry to the esteemed WIRL mobile application. Furthermore, the dynamic forum for interactive discussions provided a pivotal avenue for participants to forge connections, exchange anecdotes, and bolster each other along their path to improved well-being.  

In accordance with our target of recruiting between 100 and 120 participants, a sum of 116 individuals were enlisted from the MPHN area. The average age among the participants stood at 43 years, spanning from 18 as the youngest to 73 as the eldest. The age distribution is visually represented in the provided chart, indicating that the age bracket of 31 to 40 held the largest participant count. The average BMI for participants was 39.4 with a maximum of 66.2 and minimum of 21.4.  

EMPOWER used validated scales to evaluate participant feedback, particularly through the Intuitive Eating Scale - 2 (IES-2), administered at the program's start and end. The IES-2 assessed factors like eating motivations, satisfaction, and reliance on internal cues. Alongside this, participants completed the Nottingham's University Hospital NHS Trust Questionnaire after each virtual session, gauging session effectiveness and content satisfaction. The evaluations showed active participant engagement with a 64.9% survey completion rate. Remarkably, post-program IES-2 scores indicated a substantial 67.7% average enhancement, with more than 80% improvement in three major subdomains.  

In summary, the EMPOWER program has achieved substantial success by promoting healthy eating and empowerment within the MPHN community. Its versatile approach allowed participants to customize their path toward healthier eating habits, with positive feedback and high engagement validating the effectiveness of its components. Telecare is hopeful for future programs like EMPOWER that can extend its positive influence on health and well-being within and beyond the Murrumbidgee PHN region.