• The role of perception in developing healthy lifestyles and community engagement

      Coleman, Anne-Marie; Hicks-Coolick, Anne; Brown, Agnes F.; Georgia Department of Public Health; Cobb and Doglas Public Health Department; Kennesaw State University (Georgia Public Health Association, 2015)
      Background: The Cobb and Douglas Public Health Department and the Cobb2020 partnership, sponsored by the Mobilizing for Action through Planning and Partnering program, facilitated six focus groups in Cobb County to ascertain residents’ perceptions of healthy behaviors. The purpose of the research was to assist in the development of programs to increase healthy behaviors. Methods: Purposive sampling was used to choose fifty-eight participants, who were divided into six groups in different geographic locations. The focus group questions concerned healthy living, health communications, and community health. Qualitative data analysis techniques were used to generate themes and categories across and within groups. Results: Six themes emerged: 1) need for education; 2) healthy food choices; 3) access to healthcare; 4) trust in health care providers; 5) affordable healthcare; and 6) need for local resources. The results show how community members’ perceptions regarding: a) policies that affect health, b) environments that promote healthier choices, and c) systems that allow individuals to be health consumers influence healthy living and community engagement. Other findings note different perceptions between those with and without health insurance. In addition, socio-economic status and ethnicity were seen as factors related to the perceptions of participants. Conclusions: The findings of this study informed a comprehensive, county-wide Community Health Improvement Plan. As a result of these studies, Cobb & Douglas Public Health established, as two chronic disease prevention interventions, the Cobb2020 Farm Fresh Market and, in the City of Kennesaw, the 100% Tobacco Free Parks and Cemeteries policy. Keywords: focus group, healthy living, individual perceptions, health belief model