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Article: Healthy Community Initiatives In Rural Alberta, Canada, During COVID-19

Gillies, C., Frenette, N., Patterson, S., & Scott, L. K. (2024). Healthy community initiatives in rural Alberta, Canada, during COVID-19. Journal of Rural and Community Development, 19(1), 14–27. 

The Alberta Healthy Communities Approach (AHCA) is a five-step process that supports communities to develop, implement, and evaluate healthy community initiatives that create supportive environments for health. Given challenges introduced by the COVID-19 pandemic, the purpose of this study was to explore the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the implementation of healthy community initiatives in rural settings in Alberta, Canada.

From February to March 2022, data was collected via semi-structured interviews with seven Health Promotion Facilitators (HPFs) who supported the implementation of the AHCA with 19 rural communities. Interviews were analysed using a codebook thematic analysis approach. The interviews revealed four main themes: adaptation, changes to the HPF role, transition to virtual engagement, and challenges arising in communities.

While the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in social and economic challenges in communities, findings highlight the adaptability and resiliency of the AHCA as a way of working with communities that promotes supportive environments for health, even during a public health emergency.

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