To effectively implement community health promotion programs, social workers have to acquire some practical skills that are necessary to get people’s attention. What is more, they are to be aware of several theoretical constructs. In the article, Promoting Breast Cancer Screening in Rural, African American Communities: The “Science and Art” of Community Health Promotion, Alteper, Earp, and Scholper are focused on the conceptual foundation of the North Carolina Breast Cancer Screening Program. The authors accentuate the idea of the “science and art” of community health promotion with the focus on the examples of lay and professional communities that take part in the community health promotion program. The article is considered to be a guideline for social workers.
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Breast cancer screening programs in North Carolina
The article begins with a brief description of the North Carolina Breast Cancer Screening Program. The authors state that the program was created and implemented to increase breast cancer screening rates in African American communities. The program included social-ecological and community organizing approaches to health promotion such as organizing models, locality development, and social planning in particular. A plan to institutionalize the program’s successes was formulated. The program staff was aimed at helping local agencies and the African American community to establish a prosperous system that provides accessible breast cancer screening and treatment for all women in need.
The process of the North Carolina Breast Cancer Screening Program was divided into three phases: infrastructure development, forming community linkages at multiple levels and controlling and providing feedback for maintaining the infrastructure. At the first stage, crucial state and regional agencies were involved, the local staff structure and volunteer networks were created, and local leaders were hired. The second phase was focused on the creating of three types of linkages: linkages between volunteers and providers, linkages between providers groups, and linkages between state and local entities. The third stage of the program was implemented to control changes in screening rates. Also, feedback mechanisms were introduced. They enabled the progress or failures of the program.
The authors of the article emphasize that the North Carolina Breast Cancer Screening Program is a good example of the “art” of attracting players in the community. The program’s ideas and basic insights are very useful for social workers, who are interested in creating community-based projects with the focus on health issues. According to the authors, to be a successful community social work practitioner, firstly, it is essential to learn as much as possible about the community where the project will be implemented. Further, social workers should pay enough attention to the education of the community players. The community health promotion program is to be thoroughly explained. Also, it is important to communicate and engage with new social workers. Social workers have to be ready to improvise because there always can be some differences between plans and reality. Finally, some types of recognition can be implemented because they help to encourage volunteers.
To sum up, the authors of the article underline the importance of the connections between the “science” of community health promotion and the “art”. According to Alteper, Earp, and Scholper, the “art” refers to the activities of community members. The North Carolina Breast Cancer Screening Program is the best example of this complex interplay. The program illustrates effective approaches that can be useful for other community health promotion programs.