The Health Educator’s Role in Rural Community Transformation Work: A Multiple Case Study
Jacqueline Lanier, Dr. PH, MCHES

Rural communities in the United States see higher rates of chronic disease and are faced with unique challenges related to their environment. Increasingly activities to address chronic disease are focused on community transformation aimed at the complex interaction between individuals, communities, and environments in a socio ecological approach to health education. Some rural local health departments have received funding for community transformation work (CTW), but it was unclear how implementation was occurring and who at the Local Health Department (LHD) was leading implementation efforts. This study utilized a qualitative exploratory multiple case study approach to understand the role the health educator in community transformation work in rural Illinois. It was found that health educators are leading CTW at rural LHDs. CTW is a shift from the traditional individual based health education work these practitioners have done in the past, but falls in line with the seven areas of responsibilities. Not all the health educators felt ready or prepared to do this work. The issue of resources, specifically funding to support staff time, continues to be an issue. Without sustained funding the start and stop, nature of the health educator’s work may continue and it may undermine efforts to reduce chronic disease.

Full Text: PDF     DOI: 10.15640/ijhs.v4n2a7