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J Womens Health (Larchmt). 2004 Jun;13(5):616-24.

Using success stories to share knowledge and lessons learned in health promotion.

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  • 1Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Division of Nutrition and Physical Activity, Office of the Director, Atlanta, Georgia 30333, USA. SLewis5@cdc.gov



Compelling success stories, rich with details about real-life events and people, are a tool that health agencies can use to convey how their health promotion programs work, why they are successful, what lessons they have learned, and how others can launch similar programs. Success stories describe project accomplishments that are not easily captured by quantitative evaluation methods, such as surveys.


Although success stories have not been widely used in public health, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services developed a series of stories, the Community Change Chronicles, to highlight environmental and policy changes that promote cardiovascular health. In 2003, the Well-Integrated Screening and Evaluation for Women Across the Nation (WISEWOMAN) program used the Community Change Chronicles as a model to develop success stories about WISEWOMAN projects.


WISEWOMAN Works: A Collection of Success Stories from Program Inception Through 2002 includes 12 stories and offers advice on how to create and use success stories in public health. This paper reviews the rationale for developing the stories, presents one success story as an example, and describes the process used to gather information, write the stories, and produce a resource for others interested in developing success stories. We also discuss how the WISEWOMAN success stories are being used to promote women's health and cardiovascular health.


As the WISEWOMAN experience suggests, healthcare providers and organizations can use success stories to gain support for successful activities, inform the public about program benefits, complement other quantitative and qualitative evaluation methods, and publicly acknowledge the contributions of staff and organizational partners.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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