Implementation of oral health initiatives by Australian rural communities: Factors for success Academic Article uri icon


  • In this paper, we consider factors significant in the success of community participation in the implementation of new oral health services. Our analysis draws on data from the Rural Engaging Communities in Oral Health (Rural ECOH) study (2014-2016). We aimed to assess the Australian relevance of a Scottish community participation framework for health service development; Remote Service Futures. Internationally, community participation in planning of health initiatives is common, but less common in new service implementation. Health managers query the legitimacy of "lay" community members, whether they will persist, and whether they can act as change agents. Our data provide evidence that helps answer these queries. Six communities, located within regions covered by two large rural primary healthcare organisations (Medicare Locals), were selected in two Australian states. Two university-based facilitators worked with a group of local residents (for each community) to monitor implementation of new oral health initiatives designed through participatory processes. Data about implementation were collected through interviews with 28 key stakeholders at the beginning of implementation and 12 months later. Data were coded, themed and analysed abductively. Five themes emerged; the inter-relationship between community motivation to participate with the fortunes of the oral health initiatives, having the "right" people involved, continuing involvement of sponsors and/or significant people, trusting working relationships between participants and perceiving benefits from participation. Findings provide evidence of a role for community participation in implementing new community services if solid partnerships with relevant providers can be negotiated and services are seen to be relevant and useful to the community.

publication date

  • 2018