248258 Building community capacity in rural Mississippi Delta for policy and environmental systems change

Monday, October 31, 2011

Cassandra Dove, MPH , Chronic Disease Bureau, Mississippi State Department of Health, Jackson, MS
Jackie Hawkins, MRPP , Chronic Disease Bureau - Mississippi Delta Health Collaborative, Mississippi State Department of Health, Jackson, MS
Background: The MS Delta has oftentimes been compared to developing countries in terms of health and social conditions, factors which conspire to produce an increased risk for poor health outcomes including heart disease and stroke.

Objective: To build capacity at the community level to effectively implement policy and change the environment to reduce risk factors for heart disease, including access to healthy foods and physical activity and reduced exposure to tobacco smoke.

Methods: 19 MS Delta municipalities were selected through a competitive process to: 1) build or strengthen a coalition of community partners in collaboration with their Mayor's office and 2) develop and implement a community action plan to address risk factors for heart disease at the policy and environmental systems levels. Focus groups were held and community members were surveyed in each municipality to assess each community's most pressing need. Councils received training and technical assistance on policy and environmental change. The project partnered with Emory University Prevention Research Center and Jackson State University to evaluate the project.

Results: During a 9-month time frame, 5 municipalities worked with their local school districts to implement joint-use agreements allowing community members to use school facilities; 4 municipalities implemented smoke-free air policies; and 11 municipalities developed community gardens.

Conclusion: Results to date demonstrate promise in facilitating policy and environmental change to support healthy behaviors through the institution of Mayor's Health Councils to actively engage community members. The program intends to replicate this model in neighboring municipalities.

Learning Areas:
Implementation of health education strategies, interventions and programs
Public health or related laws, regulations, standards, or guidelines
Public health or related public policy
Social and behavioral sciences
Systems thinking models (conceptual and theoretical models), applications related to public health

Learning Objectives:
List three methods for increasing access in to physical activity and fruits and vegetables, and reducing exposure to tobacco smoke in rural communities through policy and environmental change.

Keywords: Community Collaboration, Community Capacity

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: Thirteen years of experience in implementing public health programs at the community and state level including injury prevention, diabetes prevention and control, healthcare systems improvement, policy and environmental systems change, community mobilization, coalition development, and community-based participatory research. Served as director of the Mississippi Diabetes Prevntion and Control Program and is currently the director of the Mississippi Chronic Disease Bureau. Other positions held include Injury/Violence Prevention Coordinator; Infectious Disease Epidemiologist, and Information Systems Specialist.
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.