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Special Issue "Working with Communities to Promote Health"

A special issue of International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (ISSN 1660-4601). This special issue belongs to the section "Health Communication and Informatics".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 September 2021).

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Freya MacMillan
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Guest Editor
School of Health Sciences, Western Sydney University, Sydney, Australia
Interests: health promotion; diabetes prevention; mixed methods; community-engaged research
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals
Dr. Joanna Schwarzman
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
School of Primary and Allied Health Care, Monash University, Peninsula Campus, Frankston, VIC 3199, Australia
Interests: health promotion; healthy ageing; program evaluation; capacity building; mixed methods
Dr. Kate McBride
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
School of Medicine, Western Sydney University, Locked Bag 1797, Penrith, NSW 2751, Australia
Interests: public health; epidemiology; obesity prevention; cancer screening
Dr. Jane Sixsmith
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Health Promotion Research Centre, National University of Ireland Galway, University Road, H91 TK33 Galway, Ireland
Interests: health communication; health literacy; community-based practice; health services research

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Working with communities rather than on communities is a fundamental principle in health promotion. Health promotion interventions that follow community-engaged development and implementation approaches are more likely adopted and sustained.

Recognising that community engagement in health promotion research can vary from full engagement across all elements and stages to some involvement at particular stages, here we use the term community-engaged research to capture research across this spectrum.

We invite researchers from broad areas of health promotion and using any rigorous study design to submit their research on engaging and collaborating with communities, intervention development, implementation, evaluation, knowledge translation, scaling-up and sustainability. Research focusing on any health promotion issue/topic will be considered, but we particularly welcome studies addressing current topical areas in health promotion, such as:

  • racism and health
  • transitioning ways of working with communities in the digital age
  • needs of different community groups to fully engage in health promotion and research
  • health promotion workforce diversity issues
  • community health during and on recovery from COVID-19.

Dr. Freya MacMillan
Dr. Joanna Schwarzman
Dr. Kate McBride
Dr. Jane Sixsmith
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2500 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Health promotion
  • Community-engaged research
  • Community-based participatory research
  • Action research
  • Community empowerment
  • Health and wellbeing

Published Papers (10 papers)

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Research

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Article
Smoking Cessation Services by Community Pharmacists: Real-World Practice in Thailand
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(22), 11890; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph182211890 - 12 Nov 2021
Viewed by 504
Abstract
This study aimed to report the effectiveness of community pharmacy smoking cessation services in 13 health regions in Thailand using a retrospective data-collecting method from the Foundation of Community Pharmacy database. The participants were smokers aged at least 18 years. The outcomes were [...] Read more.
This study aimed to report the effectiveness of community pharmacy smoking cessation services in 13 health regions in Thailand using a retrospective data-collecting method from the Foundation of Community Pharmacy database. The participants were smokers aged at least 18 years. The outcomes were the abstinence of smoking at least 30 consecutive days by self-report only and self-report with exhaled CO level <7 ppm (if available), the number of cigarettes smoked daily, exhaled carbon monoxide (exhaled CO), and % peak expiratory flow rate (%PEFR); smokers measured these outcomes before and after receiving the smoking cessation services. Of 58 community pharmacies, 532 smokers (93% male, mean age of 42.4 ± 14.9 years) received smoking cessation services from community pharmacists. Of 235 smokers with complete data, 153 (28.8%, 153/532) smokers reported smoking abstinence by self-report. The mean number of cigarettes smoked daily reduced from 15.3 ± 8.7 to 1.9 ± 3.8 cigarettes, p-value < 0.001. The exhaled CO levels of smokers significantly reduced from 11.7 ± 5.9 ppm to 7.2 ± 4.4 ppm, p-value < 0.001. The %PEFR also significantly increased from 84.2 ± 19.4 to 89.5 ± 19.5, p-value < 0.001. In conclusion, Thai community pharmacy smoking cessation services could aid smokers to quit smoking. This study is the outcome of the real-world community pharmacy smoking cessation service; policymakers should consider this service to be included in the national healthcare policy. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Working with Communities to Promote Health)
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Article
Can Air Quality Citizen-Sensors Turn into Clean Air Ambassadors? Insights from a Qualitative Study
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(19), 10046; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph181910046 - 24 Sep 2021
Viewed by 524
Abstract
While the figure of ambassador is being increasingly called upon in the field of environmental health, its scope remains fuzzy and its success factors have been little studied. This article presents the results of a qualitative study performed over three years on a [...] Read more.
While the figure of ambassador is being increasingly called upon in the field of environmental health, its scope remains fuzzy and its success factors have been little studied. This article presents the results of a qualitative study performed over three years on a French citizen-sensor scheme for air quality. The scheme draws on volunteer citizens to measure fine particles by means of micro-sensors. Volunteers are also tasked with raising awareness in their entourage about environmental issues with the aim of changing people’s behaviour. We investigated this strategy and sought to identify the conditions that enable citizens to become effective clean air ambassadors. The scheme’s intervention logic was first reconstructed and a literature review of similar projects was conducted. Then, three surveys were carried out with the scheme’s volunteers. Each survey consisted of an observation of the volunteers’ practices and individual interviews (70 in all) in order to understand these citizen-sensors motivations and experiences, and characterize how they fulfilled their role. We concluded that, for citizen sensing, the scope and role of ambassador should be reconsidered insofar as these citizens serve as peer leaders and mediators. In this respect, we try to define the success factors for citizen-sensing-based ambassadors programmes. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Working with Communities to Promote Health)
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Article
The Seamless Communication on a Rural Island in Japan: A Qualitative Study from the Perspective of Healthcare Professionals
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(18), 9479; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18189479 - 08 Sep 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 725
Abstract
On remote islands, interprofessional collaboration is essential to support older adults who live at home, despite the limited number of healthcare professionals (HCPs). Therefore, it is important for HCPs to collect and share information about older adults with health problems. This study aimed [...] Read more.
On remote islands, interprofessional collaboration is essential to support older adults who live at home, despite the limited number of healthcare professionals (HCPs). Therefore, it is important for HCPs to collect and share information about older adults with health problems. This study aimed to clarify how rural HCPs collaborate using limited resources to support older adults in remote islands. We conducted semi-structured interviews with 10 healthcare providers for older adults on Zamami Island of Okinawa, Japan. We performed a qualitative analysis using the steps for coding and theorization method. Four themes were extracted: “Collection and communication of information between residents”, “Communication of information from non-HCPs to HCPs”, “Sharing of information between HCPs”, and “HCPs taking action to initiate their approach”. Islanders take care of each other and know each other’s health status, while HCPs gather their health information. When necessary, HCPs on the island gain essential information regarding older adult patients from islanders not only through work, but also through personal interactions. Afterward, HCPs approach older adults who need health care. The human connections on this remote island serve as social capital and enable flexibility in both gathering information and seamless communication among islanders who also serve as informal resources that contribute support for older adults. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Working with Communities to Promote Health)
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Article
Using Community Based Research Frameworks to Develop and Implement a Church-Based Program to Prevent Diabetes and Its Complications for Samoan Communities in South Western Sydney
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(17), 9385; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18179385 - 06 Sep 2021
Viewed by 658
Abstract
Pasifika communities bear a disproportionate burden of diabetes compared to the general Australian population. Community-based participatory research (CBPR), which involves working in partnership with researchers and communities to address local health needs, has gained prominence as a model of working with underserved communities. [...] Read more.
Pasifika communities bear a disproportionate burden of diabetes compared to the general Australian population. Community-based participatory research (CBPR), which involves working in partnership with researchers and communities to address local health needs, has gained prominence as a model of working with underserved communities. This paper describes how Le Taeao Afua (LTA) Samoan diabetes prevention program was underpinned by two CBPR frameworks to develop a culturally tailored church-based lifestyle intervention to prevent diabetes and its complications in the Australian Samoan community. The name LTA, which means ‘a new dawn,’ was chosen by the community to signify a new dawn without diabetes in the Australian Samoan community. Strategies for engaging with the Australian Samoan community in South Western Sydney are discussed mapped to the key principles from the CBPR frameworks. In particular, this paper highlights the steps involved in building relationships with Samoan community leaders and the vital role of community activators and peer support facilitators in the success of delivering the program. Lessons learnt, such as the importance of church and maintaining a Samoan way of life in daily activities, and processes to build effective partnerships and maintain long-term relationships with the Australian Samoan community, are also discussed. Our paper, through providing a case example of how to apply CBPR frameworks, will help guide future community-based health promotion programs for underserved communities. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Working with Communities to Promote Health)
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Article
“We Got an Invite into the Fortress”: VA-Community Partnerships for Meeting Veterans’ Healthcare Needs
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(16), 8334; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18168334 - 06 Aug 2021
Viewed by 826
Abstract
Responding to identified needs for increased veterans’ access to healthcare, in 2010 the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) launched the Veteran Community Partnership (VCP) initiative to “foster seamless access to, and transitions among, the full continuum of non-institutional extended care and [...] Read more.
Responding to identified needs for increased veterans’ access to healthcare, in 2010 the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) launched the Veteran Community Partnership (VCP) initiative to “foster seamless access to, and transitions among, the full continuum of non-institutional extended care and support services in VA and the community”. This initiative represents an important effort by VA to promote collaboration with a broad range of community organizations as equal partners in the service of veteran needs. The purpose of the study is an initial assessment of the VCP program. Focus group interviews conducted in six sites in 2015 included 53 representatives of the local VA and community organizations involved with rural and urban VCPs across the US. Interview topics included the experiences and practices of VCP members, perceived benefits and challenges, and the characteristics and dynamics of rural and urban areas served by VCPs. Using a community-oriented conceptual framework, the analyses address VCP processes and preliminary outcomes, including VCP goals and activities, and VCP members’ perceptions of their efforts, benefits, challenges, and achievements. The results indicate largely positive perceptions of the VCP initiative and its early outcomes by both community and VA participants. Benefits and challenges vary by rural-urban community context and include resource limitations and the potential for VA dominance of other VCP partners. Although all VCPs identified significant benefits and challenges, time and resource constraints and local organizational dynamics varied by rural and urban context. Significant investments in VCPs will be required to increase their impacts. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Working with Communities to Promote Health)
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Article
It Starts with a Conversation: The Importance of Values as Building Blocks of Engagement Strategies in Community-Centered Public Health Research
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(6), 2940; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18062940 - 13 Mar 2021
Viewed by 897
Abstract
This study examined the life-motivating values of residents in underserved minority communities to inform the development of community engagement strategies. Semi-structured interviews were conducted to explore the main research questions: (1) what were the values of research participants, and (2) what did they [...] Read more.
This study examined the life-motivating values of residents in underserved minority communities to inform the development of community engagement strategies. Semi-structured interviews were conducted to explore the main research questions: (1) what were the values of research participants, and (2) what did they consider important in their lives? The participants included twenty-seven ethnically diverse individuals living in low-income neighborhoods in New York City (NYC). Thematic analysis was performed to identify common themes and patterns related to the values that participants considered important in their lives. Three broad themes were identified: (1) benevolence; (2) universalism, and (3) self-direction. Benevolence implies a sense of belonging as the central meaning in life; community engagement strategies focused on this value emphasize concern for the welfare of loved ones. Community engagement strategies focused on universalism emphasize social justice and concern for the environment and the world. Finally, community engagement strategies focused on self-direction seek to satisfy participants’ needs for control, autonomy, and mastery. This study introduces the Value-Based Framework for Community-Centered Research. It illustrates how value exploration is central to a community-centered approach to public health research and can be an important first step for designing studies that are better aligned with community needs and contexts. Such an approach can also help to co-create a “research identity” with community members and integrate their values into a project’s purpose, thereby increasing community ownership and engagement in the study. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Working with Communities to Promote Health)
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Article
Establishing a Community Air Monitoring Network in a Wildfire Smoke-Prone Rural Community: The Motivations, Experiences, Challenges, and Ideas of Clean Air Methow’s Clean Air Ambassadors
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(22), 8393; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17228393 - 13 Nov 2020
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 983
Abstract
In response to wildfire-related air quality issues as well as those associated with winter wood stove use and prescribed and agricultural burning, Clean Air Methow’s Clean Air Ambassador program established a community air monitoring network (CAMN) to provide geospatially specific air quality information [...] Read more.
In response to wildfire-related air quality issues as well as those associated with winter wood stove use and prescribed and agricultural burning, Clean Air Methow’s Clean Air Ambassador program established a community air monitoring network (CAMN) to provide geospatially specific air quality information and supplement data generated by the two Washington State Department of Ecology nephelometers situated in the area. Clean Air Ambassadors (CAAs) were purposefully selected to host low-cost air sensors based on their geographic location and interest in air quality. All 18 CAAs were interviewed to understand their motivations for participation, experiences using the data, challenges encountered, and recommendations for future project directions. Interview transcripts were coded, and a qualitative analysis approach was used to identify the key themes in each domain. The reported motivations for participation as a CAA included reducing personal exposure, protecting sensitive populations, interest in air quality or environmental science, and providing community benefits. CAAs used CAMN data to understand air quality conditions, minimize personal or familial exposure, and engage other community members in air quality discussions. Opportunities for future project directions included use for monitoring other seasonal air quality issues, informing or reducing other pollution-generating activities, school and community educational activities, opportunities for use by and engagement of different stakeholder groups, and mobile-friendly access to CAMN information. Limited challenges associated with participation were reported. Additional research is necessary to understand the community-level impacts of the CAMN. The findings may be informative for other rural wildfire smoke-prone communities establishing similar CAMNs. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Working with Communities to Promote Health)
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Review

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Review
Effective Community-Based Interventions for the Prevention and Management of Heat-Related Illnesses: A Scoping Review
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(16), 8362; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18168362 - 07 Aug 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1101
Abstract
Background: Extreme temperatures have negative consequences on the environment, ecosystem, and human health. With recent increases in global temperatures, there has been a rise in the burden of heat-related illnesses, with a disproportionate impact on low- and middle-income countries. Effective population-level interventions are [...] Read more.
Background: Extreme temperatures have negative consequences on the environment, ecosystem, and human health. With recent increases in global temperatures, there has been a rise in the burden of heat-related illnesses, with a disproportionate impact on low- and middle-income countries. Effective population-level interventions are critical to a successful public health response. Objective: This scoping review aims to summarize the evidence on the effectiveness of population-level heat-related interventions and serve as a potential guide to the implementation of these interventions. Methods: Studies that evaluated the effectiveness of community-based interventions to mitigate or reduce the impact of extreme heat on heat-related mortality and morbidity were sought by searching four electronic databases. Studies published in the English language and those that had quantifiable, measurable mortality, morbidity or knowledge score outcomes were included. Results: The initial electronic search yielded 2324 articles, and 17 studies were included. Fourteen studies were based in high-income countries (HICs) (Europe, US, Canada) and discussed multiple versions of (1) heat action plans, which included but were not limited to establishing a heat monitoring system, informative campaigns, the mobilization of health care professionals, volunteers, social workers and trained caregivers in the surveillance and management of individuals with known vulnerabilities, or stand-alone (2) education and awareness campaigns. Multi-pronged heat action plans were highly effective in reducing heat-related mortality and morbidity, especially among vulnerable populations such as the elderly and those with chronic conditions. Conclusions: The heat action plans covered in these studies have shown promising results in reducing heat-related mortality and morbidity and have included instituting early warning systems, building local capacity to identify, prevent or treat and manage heat-related illnesses, and disseminating information. Nevertheless, they need to be cost-effective, easy to maintain, ideally should not rely on a mass effort from people and should be specifically structured to meet the local needs and resources of the community. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Working with Communities to Promote Health)
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Other

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Case Report
Bridging Knowledge Systems: A Community-Participatory Approach to EcoHealth
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(23), 12437; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph182312437 - 26 Nov 2021
Viewed by 369
Abstract
Earth’s life-supporting ecosystems are integral to human and planetary health. Ecosystem services connect ecosystem functions to human wellbeing. The complex, multifaceted socio-ecological challenges of ecosystem decline necessitate a transdisciplinary approach, including the active and meaningful engagement and participation of local communities. Communities uniquely [...] Read more.
Earth’s life-supporting ecosystems are integral to human and planetary health. Ecosystem services connect ecosystem functions to human wellbeing. The complex, multifaceted socio-ecological challenges of ecosystem decline necessitate a transdisciplinary approach, including the active and meaningful engagement and participation of local communities. Communities uniquely possess expert local knowledge, which, when integrated into policy development and community planning, has the potential to enhance and sustain ecosystem benefits for health and wellbeing. Community-informed mapping tools provide an opportunity for integrating science, policy, and public participation in data collection. However, there is a dearth of community-informed mapping tools demonstrating the interconnection of the ecological and social determinants of health at a place-based level. This paper presents a study that employs a community-based participatory research approach to mapping local knowledge systems on EcoHealth. The study seeks to develop a community mapping tool for shared dialogue and decision-making on EcoHealth between local communities and policymakers. The participatory research methods used to explore community awareness and knowledge regarding ecosystem services, health, and sustainability in the local area are described. The process of co-producing a Community EcoHealth Toolkit, based on the integration of different knowledge systems into local policy and planning, is discussed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Working with Communities to Promote Health)
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Case Report
Engaging Diverse Community Groups to Promote Population Health through Healthy City Approach: Analysis of Successful Cases in Western Pacific Region
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(12), 6617; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18126617 - 19 Jun 2021
Viewed by 953
Abstract
Background: A substantial global burden of health can be attributed to unhealthy lifestyles and an unhealthy living environment. The concept of a Healthy City is continually creating and improving physical and social environments to enable healthy living. The aim of this paper is [...] Read more.
Background: A substantial global burden of health can be attributed to unhealthy lifestyles and an unhealthy living environment. The concept of a Healthy City is continually creating and improving physical and social environments to enable healthy living. The aim of this paper is to investigate how the Healthy City concept would tackle the complexity of health by addressing the socio-economic and political determinants of health in the Western Pacific Region. Methods: The SPIRIT model adopted by the Alliance for Healthy Cities can provide a framework for an integrated and holistic approach to enable policy, environment, social matters, behaviours, and bio-medical interventions to take their rightful place side by side. The performance of cities awarded by the AFHC was analysed under each domain of the SPIRIT model to show the efforts striving to acquire the qualities of a healthy city. Findings: Two cities have incorporated the Healthy City concept in most of their policies outside the health sector, with a high level of commitment from city leaders and citizens, so the Health City activities were recognised as part of the means to advance the cityies’ general planning. One city has made use of its strong network of key stakeholders from different sectors and disciplines to establish a “Medical–Social–Community’ model. All three cities have collected health information to reflect health status, determinants of health and issues reflecting health promotion to enable the creation of a city health profile and show positive changes in health. The cities have engaged key stakeholders to launch a variety of health-promoting programmes according to the needs of the population. Conclusion: The AFHC can play an important role in linking the cities with strong action in Healthy City activities to support other cities in Healthy City development. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Working with Communities to Promote Health)
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