University of Vermont

Office of Health Promotion Research

OHPR Abstract 5

Abstract 1980-1989

Dorwaldt AL, Solomon LJ, Worden JK. Why volunteers helped to promote a community breast self-exam program. J Volunt Adm. 1988 Summer;6(4):23-30.

Involving volunteers in community health programs is common practice. However, there is little information about specific methods to motivate volunteers to become involved and stay involved. In a community breast self-exam (BSE) education project, volunteers played a major role in the recruitment of women for BSE training presentations given by nurse instructors. Working in a support group capacity, approximately 20 women volunteers in each of two communities completed recruitment tasks such as hosting presentations in their own homes, arranging for presentations for a club or organization, and endorsing the program in the media. At the end of a three-month period, the activities of these volunteers had increased participation of community women in presentations by 50% in one community and 115% in the second community, and the BSE education program had increased both the frequency and quality of BSE practice throughout both communities. Because of the success of the volunteer support group strategy, an interview was conducted with the eleven "super-star" volunteers to assess the motivational factors influencing their initial and continued involvement. Results include a description of common characteristics of these highly motivated volunteers and several recommendations for volunteer administrators or for anyone attempting to recruit and maintain motivated groups of volunteers.

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