Expanded Lifestyle Change Programs: Target BP & Walk With Ease 

This article is part of the Oregon Medical Association's Steering Toward Health initiative that aims to reduce the incidence of serious, lifestyle-related chronic conditions.


March 31, 2021—The Oregon Medical Association is committed to helping providers connect patients to evidence-based lifestyle change programs designed to address, day by day, the root causes of numerous chronic diseases. To that end, we launched the Steering Toward Health campaign in 2019, beginning with a focus on preventing type 2 diabetes.

By collaborating with the American Medical Association (AMA), the Oregon Health Authority (OHA), and other partners, the OMA developed a toolkit to make it easier for care teams to screen at-risk patients for prediabetes, and to refer those with the condition to the CDC-recognized National Diabetes Prevention Program (National DPP). Since then, we have shared multiple success stories about how the yearlong course has transformed participants’ overall health, and served as a go-to community resource for providers across the state.

Now, the OMA plans to expand Steering Toward Health by highlighting additional health promotion areas including: preventing heart disease, increasing physical activity, and managing arthritis pain. We’ll start with two initiatives—Target: BP and Walk With Ease—summarized below. If your clinic is involved in either, please let us know so we can feature you in upcoming articles and educational materials.

Target: BP—Improving Blood Pressure Control Rates

Though nearly half of U.S. adults have high blood pressure, many are unaware of it, according to the American Heart Association (AHA). The 2019 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) reports that in Oregon, nearly 31% of adults have been diagnosed with hypertension; however, only about one in four of those have the condition under control, placing thousands of Oregonians at an increased risk for heart disease and stroke.

In response to this rising public health concern, the OMA has partnered with the AMA and the AHA to promote Target: BP, which aims to improve the accurate measuring of blood pressure by clinicians, and train patients to use SMBP or self-measured blood pressure monitoring at home. A recent review conducted by the The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) showed that SMBP plus additional support, such as one-on-one counseling and lifestyle modification education, was more effective in lowering high blood pressure than only taking blood pressure readings at routine doctor check-ups.

Walk With Ease

Research shows that physical inactivity is a leading risk factor for developing one or more serious chronic diseases. In Oregon, nearly 24% of adults report being inactive, engaging in no physical activity or exercise other than their regular jobs, according to the 2019 BRFSS. 

The good news is that regular physical activity, such as walking, reduces the risk of heart disease, stroke, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, certain cancers, anxiety and depression. That’s why the OMA has partnered with the OHA and the Arthritis Foundation to promote Walk With Ease (WWE), a research-based program aimed at helping people get and stay more active. 

While WWE was originally created to manage arthritis symptoms, it welcomes anyone who wishes to safely begin an exercise program to reduce pain and improve their overall health. Additional components of the program include health education, stretching and strengthening exercises, and strategies to increase exercise self-efficacy.

Through an Equity Lens

The OMA is also dedicated to raising awareness of the health disparities associated with chronic diseases. For instance, CDC data shows that in Oregon, as levels of income and education increase, the prevalence of hypertension and physical inactivity decreases. Furthermore, Hispanic, American Indian/Alaska Native, and Black adults report higher levels of sedentary behavior than Whites and Asians.

As we spotlight Walk with Ease, Target: BP, the National DPP, and other programs, we would like to include clinics working to reduce health inequities.

For more information, please contact Joy Conklin: joy@theoma.org.