College of Public Health students graduating

Community Impact

Community Engagement and Collaboration:

Through the work of the Office of Workforce Development and Community Engagement's practice-based centers, the University of Kentucky College of Public Health has been involved in numerous engagement and outreach activities and has had a huge impact in a wide range of communities across the Commonwealth.

These activities include:

  • Facilitated engaged citizens coming together to conduct a community health assessment (CHA) and community health improvement plan (CHIP) in 21 counties across Kentucky using a method developed by the Kentucky and Appalachia Public Health Training Center staff for efficient use of community partner resources in gathering and prioritizing health information.
  • Facilitated a group of 10 counties, planning on a regional level, for a community health improvement plan.
  • Chartered 1-4 workgroups in each county conducting CHA/CHIP to work on specific health related issues – most common topics are Substance Abuse/Tobacco, Obesity, Healthcare Access, and Teen Pregnancy.
  • Training and collaboration with CTG-KY (a CDC Community Transformation Grant) to train regional coordinators in coalition/capacity building and facilitation skills as well as intervention implementation strategies to assist with work of county workgroups on issues identified during the CHA/CHIP process.

Individual Competency Building:

The Office of Workforce Development and Community Engagement provides competency-based training for a variety of professions within the field of public health.  Many of the continuing education courses align with the domains and core competencies for public health professionals from the Public Health Foundation's Council on Linkages.

Doctors, nurses, social workers, other caretakers having the latest knowledge on aging, dementia, and Alzheimer’s through the Summer Series on Aging and the special training series with Dr. Greg Jicha (enduring materials produced and available at

The Office of Workforce Development and Community Engagement has provided continuing education for thousands of trainees through workshops, webinars, community forums, online courses, lectures, and conferences; on communication, managing change, leadership, management, systems thinking, strategic planning, succession planning, collaboration, coalition building, creating partnerships, policy, program planning, aging issues, and emergency preparedness.

Evidence Informed Decision-Making:

A key role the University of Kentucky College of Public Health plays in these efforts is providing evidence to inform decision making at the level of service which will result in improved health outcomes for the citizens of the Commonwealth.

The Kentucky and Appalachia Public Health Training Center (KAPHTC) provides consultation with local health department (LHD) leaders on building community partnerships and coalitions, providing structure to health coalition work, gathering disease burden picture information, and using evidence-based strategies.  The KAPHTC also provides consultation to LHD leaders and their employees regarding the CHA/CHIP process, barriers to workgroup efforts, and other community engagement issues.

The KAPHTC has worked with University of Kentucky College of Public Health doctoral students and University of Kentucky medical librarians to develop evidence-based intervention resource sheets for the following topics: Healthcare Access, Substance Abuse, Teen Pregnancy, Tobacco, Community Resource Awareness, Physical Activity, Obesity, Nutrition, and Collaboration with Community Partners.

Stories of Impact from the Field:

The Ohio Valley Appalachia Regional Geriatric Education Center (OVAR/GEC) - a consortium of the Universities of Kentucky, Louisville, Cincinnati and East Tennessee State University - received HRSA funding to develop resources, provide training, and develop multi-agency network to address Emergency Preparedness for Aging.  With a track record of success, the OVAR/GEC leveraged funding from the USDHHS Office of the Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) through the KY Department for Public Health.  This additional funding facilitated the participation of aging and long term care agencies in regional healthcare preparedness coalitions and resulted in the creation of the KY All Hazards Long Term Care Planning and Resources Manual that was recognized as a 2010 ASPR National Long Term Care Best Practice by the USDHHS/ASPR. In addition, the OVAR/GEC Director, Arleen Johnson, PhD, and University of Louisville OVAR/GEC Institutional Director, Betty Shiels, received a 2011 Outstanding Community Service Award from the Southeastern Association of Area Agencies for their work in the area of emergency preparedness for aging and long term care.  

Over 50 students from University of Kentucky, Eastern Kentucky University, and Western Kentucky University have received funding for a public health field experience in a medically underserved community in Kentucky.  The projects that have come out of these field experiences have had tremendous impact on the underserved communities.

The KAPHTC distributed evidence-based intervention resource sheets to county CHA/CHIP workgroups and other interested partners for use in their own strategic planning such as:

  • Banks
  • Regional Universities and Community Colleges
  • A MCO offered $500 “seed money” awards to county workgroups who use evidence-based interventions in two rural western Kentucky counties.

As a result of the CHA/CHIP process, facilitated by the KAPHTC, a western Kentucky community selected obesity and substance abuse as the focus areas for their two Community Health Improvement Plan workgroups.  The representative from KY-ASAP agreed to lead the substance abuse workgroup and expressed his excitement over finally having additional community partners to help.

An eastern Kentucky community group selected substance abuse as one of focus areas for a workgroup.  They included law enforcement and individuals recovering from substance abuse in their workgroup, proving to be one of the first times the conversation between those two groups had taken place.

The KAPHTC facilitated the formation of county-wide health coalitions in Henderson, Marshall, and Mason counties, where none had existed before, as a result of the CHA/CHIP process.

In a western Kentucky county, the health department and the local non-profit hospital collaborated to bring in partners for the CHA/CHIP process.  At the end of the sessions, the two organizations decided to jointly organize a county-wide health coalition to oversee on-going efforts of the three workgroups – obesity, substance abuse, and workplace readiness.