For those in community or public healthandexercisetips, the topics in this article will be nothing new-but as busy professionals ourselves, we often find it helpful to be reminded of the basic premises of our chosen fields. It’s so easy in our hectic-and very important-drive to complete work tasks that we lose sight of those core values for which we strive.
There are a growing number of evidence-based interventions for use by community and public health professionals to promote health and prevent disease. [Leeman, Calancie, et al: 2015] These practices have the potential to improve environments, behaviors, and health outcomes in our communities. In order to adopt these practices, however, public health agencies and community partners often need additional tools, strategies, and training to enhance their capacity to improve health outcomes.
The most effective prevention strategies actively engage the communities they are intended to serve. Effective health promotion and health-enhancing social change require communities to identify, plan, channel resources, and take action. The concept that a community is the solution to its own problems is not new. There is considerable support for designing community-based interventions to improve the health behaviors and overall health status of community members. According to Sotomayor, Pawlik, and Dominguez in the journal Preventing Chronic Disease, “These community-based interventions are important because health disparities and the high rate of chronic diseases in minority populations, particularly among those who are poor and lack access to community resources, are not likely to be prevented without them.” [Sotomayor, Pawlik, and Dominguez: 2007]
Many health prevention and promotion consultants stress the importance that local leaders play in building community health. The Healthy People 2020 toolkit Identifying & Engaging Community Partners, answers the question “How Do You Define Meaningful Citizen Participation?” in this way:
Building strong relationships with necessary community partners can be time consuming. Facilitating meetings to allow the meaningful participation outlined above requires a particular, practiced set of skills. Here’s where a community health consultant could be extremely valuable. Each community health consultant is different, of course, but in general he or she will have significant experience with the following tasks: