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School & Program Updates

School & Program Updates

IUPUI: ECHO Center Trains Indiana Prisoners to Become Peer Health Educators

Through the new Indiana Peer Education Program (INPEP) at IUPUI, the Indiana University Richard M. Fairbanks School of Public Health – Indianapolis ECHO Center is training people who are incarcerated to become peer health educators.

The program is modeled after a prison peer education program launched in 2009 by Project ECHO (Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes). The ECHO Center at IUPUI is the first site to replicate this type of program which uses an innovative videoconferencing approach to sharing medical knowledge and training health care providers.

Participants in the program learn how to pass knowledge on to their peers about common health conditions affecting prison populations, including infectious diseases such as hepatitis C, staph/MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) skin infections and tuberculosis; mental health issues such as suicide risk, depression and anxiety; human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and other sexually transmitted infections; diabetes; and addiction.

These peer educators communicate strategies to reduce risky behaviors and serve as key resources for health information within the prisons, in addition to developing skills in self-efficacy, responsibility and leadership that can carry over into their lives after incarceration.

Ms. Andrea Janota, program coordinator at the ECHO Center, said INPEP’s model is “prison health is public health.”

Twenty men from the Correctional Industrial Facility in Pendleton and the Plainfield Correctional Facility completed the 40-hour peer education training program in June and have begun hosting weekly health education workshops with their peers. The Indiana Peer Education Program is a collaboration between the ECHO Center at IUPUI, Step-Up Inc., the Indiana Department of Correction and the Viral Hepatitis Program at the Indiana State Department of Health.

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