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Doctor of Social Work (DSW)


Rural Appalachian communities are overwhelmed with high cancer rates, diabetes, disabilities, and substance use disorder. The challenges in addressing these increase when you factor in workforce shortages and limited funding. The literature documents the effectiveness of coalitions in addressing healthcare challenges within communities. The need is for leaders to reduce their hesitancy to engage in community coalition efforts and increase awareness of the impact community coalitions can have on addressing rural populations' health and well-being needs.

Product One was a systematic review focused on research that examined agency leaders’ perspectives on community coalition involvement. The purpose of conducting the systematic review was to understand what factors contributed to agency leaders’ decisions to engage in community coalition efforts. From that knowledge, how to bolster leadership engagement in community coalition efforts, especially in rural areas, was explored.

Product two was a conceptual paper that explored the development of a tool that would enhance agency leaders’ ability to objectively justify their decisions to engage or refrain from involvement in community coalition efforts. The community coalition impact assessment tool was created as a resource for agency leaders, especially in rural areas, to reduce their hesitancy in making decisions about coalition involvement.

Product three explored the implementation of the community coalition impact assessment tool in rural Appalachian communities. The need for training, built off of the topic areas in the tool, was identified as the next step for dissemination. This would help ensure that agency leaders examined the cost and benefits of coalition participation from both the short and long-term impact of coalition engagement.

Community members need holistic care, which is beyond the capacity of a single agency. Coalitions are a way of increasing resources and addressing gaps within communities. Utilizing the community coalition impact assessment tool enables agency leaders to gauge how they can benefit from community consortium involvement and explore where their agency’s expertise fits within the coalition. This tool will allow leaders to quickly assess the community coalitions fit with their agency, thus decreasing their apprehension in participation and making them more confident in justifying their decision to their stakeholders.

Available for download on Sunday, April 21, 2024

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