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(9) Exploring Health Education Documentation


Amy E. Morrison, D.H.Ed., CCC-SLP, CHES – Certified Health Education Specialist, A. T. Still University

Amy E. Morrison, D.H.Ed., CCC-SLP, CHES – Certified Health Education Specialist, A. T. Still University


This study explored a standard, yet seldom-examined, responsibility within the field of health education—documentation. Using symbolic interactionism as a theoretical framework and established criteria for high quality qualitative research, the following research questions were investigated: • What are the current documentation practices of health education specialists; and • What are the beliefs and attitudes of health education specialists regarding documentation? Individual, semi-structured interviews were conducted in person with 14 health education specialists working in county and state health departments in one southwestern state. Data were analyzed using constructivist grounded theory methodology with the assistance of ATLAS.ti 8 (Windows). Results revealed participants defined documentation broadly and engaged with a variety of documents across myriad tasks. In practice, participants reported using documentation for two main audiences—the public and professionals. Emerging from the data were a duality of nine factors health education specialists perceived as impacting documentation: • Politics; • Resources; • Communication; • Support; • Training/guidance; • Collaboration; • Approach; • Priority population; and • Power/voice. Generally, participants expressed positive attitudes toward documentation for public consumption, as those documents symbolized autonomy, and negative attitudes toward documentation for professional use, as they symbolized heteronomy. To reduce barriers to documentation, study participants described potential benefits of public-private partnerships including sharing resources, expediating procedural processes, improving technological tool development/use, and extending program reach. Findings suggested when health education professionals are supported in routine tasks such as documentation they are better able to realize their reported primary goal—making a positive impact on the communities they serve.

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