Title: Community partners' perceptions in working with local health departments: an exploratory study

Authors: Priscilla Barnes; Amy Curtis; Laura Hall Downey; Leigh Ford

Addresses: Indiana University-Bloomington School of Public Health, 1025 E. 7th St., C019, Bloomington, IN 47405, USA ' College of Health and Human Services, Western Michigan University, 1903 W Michigan Ave., Kalamazoo MI 49008-5379, USA ' Department of Community Health Sciences, University of Southern Mississippi, 108 North 31st Avenue, 118 College Drive, Box #5122, Hattiesburg, MS 39406, USA ' School of Communication, Western Michigan University, 312 Sprau Tower, 1903 W. Michigan Ave., Kalamazoo, MI 49008-5318, USA

Abstract: The purpose of this article is to explore perceptions of partnerships among organisational representatives and volunteers working with local health departments (LHDs). Semi-structured interviews were conducted, transcribed and coded in NVIVO 8.0. Using thematic analysis, four major themes were identified. Partners reported multiple roles in the partnerships, but did not express a desire to play more of a leadership role. Motivations to partner differed depending if they were personal or organisational driven to participate. Partners in rural communities reported partnering more often due to limited financial resources and staff, but were more concerned about burnout. Indicators of success reported by partners included building strong relationships, completing projects, measuring attendance to events, and to a smaller extent, change in community outcomes using assessments. Results suggest LHD partners are not interested in increased leadership responsibility in their partnerships and that motivations to partner need to be considered in improving population health status.

Keywords: local health departments; LHDs; partnerships; thematic analysis; community partners; partner perceptions; organisational representatives; volunteers; rural communities; leadership responsibility; motivation; population health status; healthcare.

DOI: 10.1504/IJQRS.2013.054343

International Journal of Qualitative Research in Services, 2013 Vol.1 No.1, pp.35 - 52

Received: 26 Sep 2012
Accepted: 05 Nov 2012

Published online: 05 Jul 2014 *

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