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Rural Health Information Hub

Identify and Engage Partners, Community Members, and Decision-Makers

Factors contributing to health in rural communities are complex. Because of this, interventions are more likely to be effective when a diverse representation of community residents and organizations are engaged in planning and implementation. Successful and sustained health efforts are only achieved through support from the community at large, organizations, institutions, and other entities that make decisions that affect health and well-being. Engaging a diverse group to guide program development and implementation will ensure that the goals of the program reflect a wide range of community perspectives and will increase community acceptance and awareness, contributing to the success of the program.

These individuals and organizations can have several different roles in rural community health programs:

  • Share responsibility for designing, implementing, and evaluating programs
  • Ensure that programs are relevant, useful, and tailored to community needs and characteristics
  • Attend community meetings, forums, receptions, events, or conferences to share program information with the general public
  • Offer expertise and insight
  • Disseminate data and evaluation results

Examples of partners involved in health promotion may include:

  • Community organizations – Parent groups, youth organizations, ministerial alliances, peer-support programs, churches and other faith-based groups, service organizations, domestic violence programs, local businesses, block clubs and neighborhood associations, business organizations, charitable groups, civic events groups, cultural groups, disability/special needs groups, older adult organizations, environmental groups, family support groups, foundations, media, mentoring groups, recreation groups, nonprofits, and service clubs
  • State, tribal, county, and local governments – Social service agencies, public health agencies, county and local justice systems and corrections, police force, fire departments, parks and recreation departments, transit authorities, Cooperative Extension
  • Educational institutions – Administrators, teachers, counselors, school nurses, youth organizations, sports teams, afterschool programs, community colleges, education groups, libraries, schools, universities
  • Healthcare – Providers, emergency medical services, area health education centers, health advocacy and fitness groups

Implementation Considerations

Partnerships may change depending on community and program focus. For example, potential partners for a rural oral health program may differ from those of an emergency preparedness and response partnership. For additional information about partners for rural health programs, see:

In many cases, rural communities already have partnership networks in place. Due to limited resources in rural public health departments and other rural entities, these communities' health needs are often met by networks of community, hospital, and non-governmental organizations. Such networks can help plan comprehensive, local solutions to address identified health priorities.

Resources to Learn More

Best Practices for Convening a Community Advisory Board
An infographic highlighting key considerations for healthcare systems when developing and maintaining a community advisory board.
Organization(s): Center for Health Care Strategies

Developing a Community Advisory Board for Research Toolkit
Assists researchers in the processes of developing and establishing a community advisory board (CAB) for integrating community perspectives into a research study.
Author(s): Kubicek, K. & Robles, M.
Organization(s): Southern California and Translational Science Institute

Mobilizing Community Partnerships in Rural Communities: Strategies and Techniques
Helps rural communities develop and maintain partnerships among healthcare providers, community organizations, local health departments, hospitals, offices of rural health, and the private sector to coordinate strategic planning, encourage creative solutions, and maximize resources to address public health issues.
Organization(s): National Association of County & City Health Officials

Phase 1: Organizing and Engaging Partners
Provides resources, trainings, and other tools to develop a partnership plan that builds commitment and engages participants as active members.
Organization(s): National Association of County & City Health Officials

Work Together
Offers information on recruiting stakeholders and building relationships that reflect diversity in a community for the advancement of health equity.
Organization(s): County Health Rankings and Roadmaps