Montana: University of Montana Rural Institute: Center for Excellence in Disability, Education, Research & Service in Missoula

June 18, 2007

The University of Montana Rural Institute on Disabilities has conducted research into the health and wellness of adults with disabilities since 1988. We have developed two secondary conditions surveillance instruments that have been widely used. In addition, based on data from these instruments, we have developed and tested several interventions. The Secondary Conditions Screening Instrument (SCSI) addresses secondary conditions experienced by adults with mobility impairments. Applications of this instrument suggest that adults with mobility impairments experience an average of 14 secondary conditions annually that interfere with their ability to participate in community life. A similar instrument, Health and Secondary Conditions Surveillance Instrument for Adults with Developmental Disabilities, targets adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

We have also developed the Living Well with a Disability program for adults with mobility impairments. Since then, it has been adopted and implemented by over 120 organizations in 32 states. Living Well with a Disability is typically delivered as an 8-week workshop to groups of 8-10 participants that are facilitated by staff from a center for independent living (CIL) 2 hours per week. The facilitator guides the group through 10 chapters of a self-help workbook. CIL facilitators are trained in either a 2-day experiential training seminar or via internet. Living Well provides a process for setting, clarifying, monitoring and attaining self-selected goals. It also provides participants with tools to manage their health, make healthy lifestyle changes, increase physical activity, develop and maintain healthy relationships, avoid depression and frustration, and improve eating habits. This program has been shown to improve health and reduce medical service utilization in controlled field trials in 9 states. We are currently developing and testing interventions (i.e., The Health Club, MENU-AIDDS, and Have Healthy Teeth) for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Now, the Montana Disability and Health Program has published Community Activated Living Well: A Guide for Implementing the Living Well with a Disability Health Promotion Workshop for Community Members who have Disabilities. This guide includes ideas, agendas and procedures that community members can use to organize and conduct Living Well workshops. For more information, please visit: