Public health research has shown that authentic community engagement could positively improve health outcomes (Glanz, Rimer, & Viswanath, 2008). This finding is only a small part of larger research findings that have drawn the link between public health research and community engagement. However, to realize positive health outcomes in this relationship, it is important to design every health strategy to meet the type of community-engaged (Glanz et al., 2008). I belong to three types of communities – school, church, and professional community. The school setting defines my primary educational environment, while my church defines my social environment. Both communities outline my economic and social spheres of engagement. The professional community comprises my colleagues in the public health practice. They are mainly public health workers. My professional engagements are closely associate with my school engagements. Indeed, through the school community, I learn professional skills that I would use in my practice. However, these communities are mutually exclusive to my engagements in the church.
The health communication messages to use across the three above-mentioned communities would differ, based on the nature of the communities mentioned. For example, public health workers should communicate with professional communities by presenting them as a lath resource (McLeroy, Norton, Kegler, Burdine, & Sumaya, 2003). This communication strategy is right because of the sustained belief that health professionals are crucial in supporting the success of public health programs (McLeroy et al., 2003). Comparatively, public health workers need to tailor their health communication messages to present the church as an agent of positive health behaviors, if they are to achieve positive health outcomes within this group (Glanz et al., 2008). The main goal of using this strategy is to use the community’s development and support capabilities to promote positive health behaviors (McLeroy et al., 2003). Using such a communication strategy would allow public health workers to meet the needs of many community health members without direct professional engagement (McLeroy et al., 2003). Lastly, communicating with the school as a target for change is an effective strategy for creating positive behavioral change among members of this community (Glanz et al., 2008). To do so, health workers should create positive systemic changes in institutional policies to urge members to adopt positive health behaviors (McLeroy et al., 2003). The broad systemic changes could also tap into community-wide services. To measure the success of this strategy, public health workers should know key health indicators and test whether they improve (McLeroy et al., 2003).
Being part of a community is not an essential requirement for creating positive behavioural changes within the group. Public health research shows that most people have changed their social behaviours by receiving information from people who are not part of their community (Parker & Thorson, 2009). For example, students have often changed their sexual behaviours by receiving information from health educators who are not part of their community. Such positive behavioural changes often occur when someone who is in authority transfers a piece of information to people who do not share the same authority (Parker & Thorson, 2009). Nonetheless, people who are within a community could have a better chance of creating positive behaviour changes among fellow community members. Usually, this is because they share the same experiences and understand the attitudes that characterise such communities (Glanz et al., 2008). However, people who do not belong to such communities could overcome this challenge. Therefore, it is wrong to assume that health behaviour changes could only materialise if community members introduce them.
Glanz, K., Rimer, B. K., & Viswanath, K. (Eds). (2008). Health behavior and health education: Theory, research, and practice (4th ed.). San Francisco, CA: John Wiley & Sons.
McLeroy, K., Norton, B., Kegler, M., Burdine, J., & Sumaya, C. (2003). Community-Based Interventions. Am J Public Health, 93(4), 529–533.
Parker, J. C., & Thorson, E. (Eds.). (2009). Health communication in the new media landscape. New York, NY: Springer Publishing Company.