Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Ph.D. in Health and Kinesiology


Health, Exercise Science, and Recreation Management

First Advisor

Jeffrey S. Hallam

Second Advisor

John J. Green

Third Advisor

Dwight E. Waddell

Relational Format



The purpose of this formative study was to use a Community-Based Participatory Research (CBPR) approach to conduct a comprehensive health needs assessment (CHNA) in Charleston, Mississippi (MS) to determine perceived needs of the community and identify priority health issues. A second purpose was to provide methodological and scholarly contributions to the existing literature regarding CBPR and CHNAs. The target population was residents living in Charleston, MS (N=2,193). Eighty-five residents participated in the study. This was a five-part study including: (1) Key informant interviews (n=11), (2) Focus groups (n=8), (3) Assessment of the built environment, (4) Assessment of the nutrition environment, and (5) Assessment of policy. Findings of the needs assessment revealed the priority health concerns in the community: obesity, diabetes, hypertension, asthma, stroke, cancer, stress, depression, prescription drug non-compliance, heart disease, limited access to health care, limited access to healthy foods, and limited health knowledge. The greatest social concerns identified were high school drop out rate, teen pregnancy, poverty, domestic violence, poor housing, alcohol abuse, drugs, smoking, limited jobs, limited education, illiteracy, and few social opportunities. Findings revealed the environmental concerns were chemicals from farming, smoking, the water supply system, and the lack of recycling available in the community. The assessment of the nutrition environment shothat residents have limited options available for purchasing healthy food. The assessment of the built environment shothe community is not physical activity friendly and residents have limited resources for physical activity. The assessment of policies revealed a need for policies to support health. Findings also identified assets, resources, and organizations in the community contributing to health and wellness. To improve health and wellness in the community there is need for a community recreation facility, worksite and community wellness programs, community health education, after school programs, group fitness classes, a farmers market, outdoor recreation facilities, increased job opportunity, recycling, and policy changes. Findings of the needs assessment describe and identify the priority health issues, needs, and service gaps and will be used to inform future planning, development, implementation, and evaluation of programs to improve health.


Emphasis: Health Behavior



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