Facilitators and Barriers to Implementation of Community-Based Socio-Ecological Approaches to Obesity Prevention Among Cooperative Extension Agents
Perceptions, knowledge, and attitudes of Cooperative Extension Service (CES) Family and Consumer Science (FCS) agents related to the planning and implementation of community-based multi-level ecological obesity prevention strategies were identified through qualitative, exploratory research. Focus group discussions (FGD) were conducted in the five regions of the Louisiana State University CES (LSU AgCenter). Participants included CES FCS Extension agents (n = 35; 97% of agents). Participants were female and responsible for conducting programming in parishes (counties). Thematic analysis of data found principal factors that influenced FCS Extension agents’ perceived ability to plan and implement community-based multi-level obesity prevention approaches to include knowledge of the socio-ecological model, beliefs about roles of CES, funding, human resources, community connectedness, community buy-in, guidance, and internal support. Assessing what FCS agents perceived as barriers and facilitators to implementing community-based obesity prevention approaches provided valuable direction to the state FCS office. Understanding gaps in knowledge, professional development needs, and existing strengths will help make the transition to community-based obesity prevention initiatives more effective. These findings may be beneficial to other CES and public health agencies implementing multi-level, community-based obesity prevention programs in partnership with community coalitions.
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