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J Okla State Med Assoc. 2018 Oct;111(8):790-794.

Community Engagement: Why Oklahoma? Why Now?

Author information

University of Oklahoma, College of Public Health, Department of Health Administration and Policy.
University of Oklahoma, College of Medicine, Department of Pediatrics.
University of Oklahoma Fran & Earl Ziegler College of Nursing.
University of Oklahoma, Oklahoma Shared Clinical and Translational Resources.



Oklahoma ranked 43rd in the 2017 America's Health Rankings largely due to health behaviors such as adult obesity, lack of physical activity and smoking. Oklahoma children also suffer from adverse childhood experiences that contribute to poor health outcomes. Community engagement, a process that involves people affiliated by geographic location and shared interest working together to address issues affecting community wellbeing, is a common model that has had some success in Oklahoma communities addressing child health.


Factors that contribute to poor health in Oklahoma include not only health behaviors such as obesity and smoking, but also lack of access to care created by a lack of health insurance and primary care providers, compounded by the largely rural nature of the state. The National Institutes of Health is committed to funding research aimed at improving the health of rural and disadvantaged populations. Historically, these populations are difficult to reach and may not be interested in the national health research initiatives, but rather want to focus on health issues important to their communities.

Conclusions and Relevance:

In this article we discuss some of Oklahoma's most pressing pediatric health needs, community engagement efforts to address these issues and a newly funded NIH grant at OUHSC aimed at supporting and learning from these efforts.


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