Benefits arising from lay involvement in community-based public health initiatives: The experience from community nutrition

Article English OPEN
Kennedy, Lynne
  • Publisher: Glyndŵr University Research Online
  • Subject: social support | benefits | personal development | Community Health and Preventive Medicine | Public Health and Community Nursing | lay health workers | health trainers | Health Services Research | nutrition | community health workers | Public Health Education and Promotion | Public Health | communities

Aims: To explore the experiences of lay food and health workers (LFHW) and professionals involved in delivering local food and health initiatives, to improve understanding of the perceived benefits associated with their involvement and wider opportunities for promoting health. Study design: An interpretive qualitative inquiry. Setting: Community-based NHS LFHW programmes in 16 locations serving less-affluent neighbourhoods across England, UK. Subjects: Twenty nine (29) food and health professionals, 53 LFHW employed by and associated with the management or day-to-day implementation of 16 LFHW initiatives in the study. Findings: Salient benefits identified at service, individual lay worker and community levels were: increased service coverage and ability to reach the ‘hard to reach’; personal development; and enhanced social support. Conclusions: This study highlights previously unreported benefits related to the direct experiences of lay people used in community nutrition in the UK, which go beyond those associated with professional-led initiatives, suggesting the need to adopt a broader view of lay involvement in the UK public health workforce.
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