206121 Community Engagement Strategies for Policy and Planning Initiatives to Eliminating Health Disparities

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Scott Morrow, MD, MPH, MBA , Health Officer, San Mateo County Health System, San Mateo, CA
Doris Y. Estremera, MPH , Health Policy & Planning, San Mateo County Health System, San Mateo, CA
Wale A. Adeniji, MSPH , Health Policy & Planning, San Mateo County Health System, San Mateo, CA
Jennifer Lynn Gross, MPH , Health Policy & Planning, San Mateo County Health System, San Mateo, CA
SaraT Lehman Mayer, MPP , Health Policy & Planning, San Mateo County Health System, San Mateo, CA
Background: Community-based efforts have long been a part of health department's strategies to improving health outcomes. Mounting evidence that employment, wealth, neighborhood conditions and other social factors directly contribute to health disparities, calls for innovative approaches to community engagement. For the San Mateo County Health Department (SMCHD), engaging authentic community voice in health policy and planning has become an integral strategy to eliminating health disparities.

Objective: To provide formalized venues for authentic and diverse community participation in health policy and planning activities.

Methods: Approaches include; partnering with community-based organizations to generate community dialogue and action around the root causes of health disparities; collaborating with schools and stakeholders on priorities and policies for addressing health disparities related to healthy eating and active living; and mentoring and supporting youth commissioners in their active participation in policy and decision-making activities.

Results: There are various examples of how authentic community engagement have led to effective strategies for the SMCHD; 1) youth advocacy groups, faith-based groups, community health centers, local food banks and others have completed a train-the-trainer course to facilitate community dialogue around health disparities; 2) a mobile recreation van was funded to provide physical activity, nutrition education and healthy snacks to neighborhoods that lack access to parks; 3) school districts received resources and some were awarded mini-grants to support implementation of their school wellness policies; 4) youth commissioners developed a Bill of Rights for the Children and Youth of San Mateo County, only the second of its kind in the entire nation.

Learning Objectives:
1. Identify at least two strategies a local Health Department can implement to engage communities in health policy and planning efforts. 2. Discuss key adaptations needed in community engagement specifically for addressing health disparities. 3. Describe the process an organization can apply to develop comprehensive and formalized venues for authentic community voice.

Keywords: Health Disparities, Community Participation

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am one of the founding members of the San Mateo County Food System Alliance and have participated in monthly meetings for the past 1.5 years.I am a Community Health Planner with the San Mateo County Health Department and am an active participant in one of the three committees of this alliance: the farm to institution committee.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.