This is an obesity and alcohol, tobacco, and other drug (ATOD) use risk prevention and
health leadership program. This project will include 150 at-risk adult Native women across 5
communities (30 women from each community) in the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma. The
intervention targets individual behavioral change relative to ATOD and obesity prevention
and simultaneously provides behavioral skills for health promotion leadership.
Investigators will conduct a longitudinal study using a cluster randomized stepped-wedge
design to evaluate the intervention impact on ATOD and obesity prevention primary aims of:
(1) substance use harm reduction and ATOD use and intentions to use; and (2) reduction in
weight/body mass index (BMI) and increase in leisure-time physical activity/physical
activity (LTPA/PA) and healthful food habits. Specifically, investigators will ask
participants to participate in up to eight group sessions (based on a curriculum drawing on
cultural teachings around health and behavioral change); attend up to three Motivational
Interviewing individual sessions (to identify individual behavioral change goals); attend a
two-day overnight culture and Trail prep camp; participate in camping and walking for up to
10 days on the Trail; and attend up to six post-walk meetings (to develop community health
events). All five communities will also be asked to complete a baseline health assessment as
well as three follow up assessments over the course of the year. Additionally, communities
2-5 will participate in three pre-intervention health assessments. This intervention
integrates components of motivational interviewing, information-motivation-behavior, and a
leadership development framework for adults. It targets individual behavioral change
relative to ATOD and obesity prevention and simultaneously provides behavioral skills for
health promotion leadership within their respective communities.The project addresses a
critical public health issue among a group experiencing considerable health disparities and
strengthens the research infrastructure in partnership with the Tribe. If efficacious, it
has the potential for widespread dissemination and could be generalizable to other chronic
co-occurring mental health and physical health conditions.
Investigators will conduct a 5-community longitudinal study using a cluster randomized
stepped-wedge design to evaluate the intervention impact on alcohol, tobacco, and other drug
(ATOD) and obesity prevention primary aims of: (1) substance use harm reduction, overall
ATOD use and intentions to use; and (2) weight/body mass index (BMI) change as well as the
effect on leisure-time physical activity/physical activity (LTPA/PA), and healthful food
habits among adult Choctaw women at risk for obesity and ATOD. The cluster randomized
stepped-wedge design is a type of cross-over study in which clusters of women from each
community cross over to the intervention arm at randomly assigned time points (one time per
year, per community).
Sequence and Timing of Study Procedures:
Randomization: Investigators have created five regional communities and within each
community a convenience sample will be drawn. Each site has been randomly assigned to start
the intervention at a given year. Randomization occurs only to determine the year each
community enters the study. Community 1 will begin the intervention immediately; communities
2-5 will complete three health assessments prior to beginning the intervention. These will
occur at the same time of post-walk assessments for the community currently in the
intervention (i.e. community 2 does health assessments in the same months community 1 does
post-walk assessments and then begins the intervention in Year 2.)
Recruitment and Screening of Participants:
- Referrals from staff from Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma (CNO) project staff, staff at
Choctaw Nation Health Services Authority (CNHSA), Community Advisory Council members,
health providers, and general community members. They will provide potential
participants with a flyer and encourage women to call if interested.
- The following strategies will be used as necessary: posting flyers in community health
clinics, stores, community centers, and other locations identified by our community
advisors; and posting flyers in the tribal newspaper, other local news outlets, and on
a study Facebook page.
- Recruitment materials will invite American Indian/Alaska Native women who are
interested in participating in the research study to call a dedicated, toll-free phone
number or the project number at Choctaw Nation.
- Participants can opt for a phone or in-person screen using the same script.
- CNO study staff will answer and return phone calls and conduct the screens. Indigenous
Wellness Research Institute (IWRI) staff will conduct eligibility screens on the phone
- Women screened out will be given a community resource list. Phone screeners will offer
to mail or email the list.
- If a person is eligible, but declines to participate, they will be given a brief
one-item exit question regarding general reason for non-participation.
- Eligible women who agree to participate will be asked to schedule their baseline
Participants will receive reminders by email, text or phone 2 days before, the day before,
and the day of any meetings, assessments, or events.
Consent and Baseline Assessment:
The baseline assessment consists of a brief physical health assessment and a
computer-assisted behavioral health survey administered by study staff. The physical health
assessment is a non-invasive procedure that involves the measurement of BMI (with portable
digital weight scale and height measure) and blood pressure. The computer-assisted
behavioral health survey will ask a series of questions and take under 90 minutes to
After consent is obtained, CNO study staff will set up the study laptop and headphones that
the participant will use to enter their responses to the questionnaire. The variable matrix
includes instructions, prompts, response scales, and references for all measures used for
each behavioral health assessment.
Group Sessions/Yappalli Curriculum (Months 1-3) Participants will attend up to eight group
sessions. The curriculum for these sessions includes: learning about Choctaw history,
traditions,and cultural systems as well as women's roles (e.g., Treaty of Dancing Rabbit
Creek); participating in cultural activities (e.g., stickball or social dances); developing
traditionally-based materials (e.g., walking sticks); and using cultural metaphors for
behavioral changes (e.g., 4 pillars of wellness-mind, body, spirit, emotion)). Experiential,
outdoor activities are incorporated to promote group cohesion, improve relational
worldviews, and connectedness to nature and the environment. Examples include activities on
an outdoor ropes course maintained and managed by CNHSA or increasing LTPA/PA by walking or
Motivational Interviewing Individual Sessions (Months 1-3) In up to three sessions,
participants will identify personal change goals on the main outcome variables as well as
community leadership goals. These sessions will target four areas: increasing physical
activity or movement; reducing or eliminating "junk" snack foods, sweets, and sugared soft
drinks; decreasing addiction and or potential to misuse tobacco, alcohol or other substances
and food; and increasing community leadership skills.
Culture Camp (Month 2) In this two-day, overnight camp participants will practice camping
and being outdoors (e.g., setting up tents, trying out new shoes and equipment, etc.) and
begin to strengthen group cohesion prior to embarking on the Trail. It is also designed to
synthesize goals and cultural values discussed in the group and individual sessions.
Trail of Tears Walk (Month 3) Participants will gather at a location in Oklahoma before
driving to a starting point at the Mississippi/Arkansas border then follow one of the routes
of the Choctaw Trail of Tears through Arkansas and back into Oklahoma. They will walk on
average 8-10 miles per day and travel by van for a portion of the trail to a different
campsite each day. At the end of the trip, the walkers will have walked approximately 60-80
miles over the 260 mile route. On the last night of the Trail, participants will make a vow
to conduct a community-wide event (based on personal and leadership goals and experience on
the Trail) within nine months. Note: a support van will travel along with walkers so that
they could walk as many minutes or miles they feel comfortable doing (e.g., from 10 mins.
Less than a quarter mile to 10 miles).
Post-Walk assessments (Months 3-12) Three follow-up health assessments will occur: one
immediately post-walk in Month 3, one in Month 9, and one in Month 12. These behavioral
health assessments will be collected in the same manner and include a similar set of
measures as the baseline assessment. The physical health assessments will also be conducted
in the same manner as the baseline assessment.
Post-Walk Group Meetings (Months 3-12) Participants will attend up to six group meetings to
plan community leadership events (investigators provide a small budget for the women to
create a community event such as a community food garden). Specific meetings include: at
three months post-walk a digital storytelling training to create a story related to ATOD and
obesity prevention and their personal experiences; and at six months post-walk an individual
MI booster session to revise their personal vows/goals and community leadership goals.
Final Community Event (Month 12) Participants will share digital stories and/or community
event experiences and undergo a naming ceremony as they transition to health leaders within
their communities. They will be given the option to become a member of one of seven Choctaw
health promotion societies on which the intervention is based to continue their health
promotion leadership efforts after their participation in the project ends.
- Self-identify as women
- Be enrolled in the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma
- Reside in the designated county
- Be 18 years of age or older
- Have tried any tobacco, alcohol, or drugs OR ever felt out of control with any food
in past 5 years
- Be able to walk unassisted for at least 10 minutes
- Women who are actively using opioids (i.e., heroin) methamphetamines and/or abusing
prescription drugs not prescribed to them (e.g., Dilaudid, Oxycontin) or alcohol
dependent (5+ bottles/glasses of alcohol a day).
- Women who exhibit serious psychiatric symptoms determined by CNO trained staff.
- Women who have been suicidal in past 3 months, are currently pregnant, or are denied