Place-Based Initiatives to Improve Health in Disadvantaged Communities: Cross-Sector Characteristics and Networks of Local Actors in North Carolina

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Abstract

Objectives

To examine the leadership attributes and collaborative connections of local actors from the health sector and those outside the health sector in a major place-based health initiative.

Methods

We used survey data from 340 individuals in 4 Healthy Places North Carolina counties from 2014 to assess the leadership attributes (awareness, attitudes, and capacity) and network connections of local actors by their organizational sector.

Results

Respondents' leadership attributes-scored on 5-point Likert scales-were similar across Healthy Places North Carolina counties. Although local actors reported high levels of awareness and collaboration around community health improvement, we found lower levels of capacity for connecting diversity, identifying barriers, and using resources in new ways to improve community health. Actors outside the health sector had generally lower levels of capacity than actors in the health sector. Those in the health sector exhibited the majority of network ties in their community; however, they were also the most segregated from actors in other sectors.

Conclusions

More capacity building around strategic action-particularly in nonhealth sectors-is needed to support efforts in making widespread changes to community health.

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