A Qualitative Analysis of Health Education Practice in Applied Work Settings

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Job analysis projects play a critical role in the health education profession by validating what is constant in the profession and identifying emerging patterns of effective practice. In this regard, the Role Delineation Project, Competencies Update Project (CUP), and Health Educator Job Analysis Project (HEJA) have provided frameworks for the accreditation of professional preparation programs, credentialing, and continuing education of health education specialists. To date, projects (CUP, HEJA, and Health Education Specialist Practice Analysis) have revalidated the framework to help describe the contemporary practice of health education specialists. Evidence is lacking regarding exactly how the frameworks have been integrated into applied practice and what guides the practice of health educators. In context of the Areas of Responsibility for health education specialists, the purpose of this qualitative study was to examine the gap between the “state of the art” and the “state of the practice” among health education practitioners in a range of workplace settings. Data were collected through structured interviews and analyzed for emergent themes. Major themes included the use of formal and informal assessment methods, program-specific planning materials and implementation strategies, supplemental materials for planning and conveying information, and the influence and work with organizations. Based on the emergent themes, the gaps between the “state of the art” and the “state of the practice” were described, with suggestions for advancing the profession.

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