Building Healthy School Communities: A Collaborative Strategy to Improve Health in Oklahoma

Tara M. Jackson, Melenda M. Knight, Edward L. Harris

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: While Oklahoma has introduced important health improvement initiatives, it continues to rank 47th among all states in health, 49th in nutrition, and 48th in obesity. This report details an Oklahoma State University initiative to proactively and systemically improve health outcomes through a transdisciplinary, multisector strategy called the Building Healthy School Communities (BHSC) ECHO, which is designed to strengthen healthy communities through their school systems.

Methods: Qualitative methods were used to select the first BHSC ECHO cohort and determine curricula. Participants were purposively sampled to represent schools from targeted geographical areas. Qualitative needs assessments were conducted with focus groups from each school. The process allowed for rich discussion regarding health and wellness goals of the schools, strengths and weaknesses of current health programs, and current partnerships. Data were analyzed using the constant comparative method, whereby information is coded and compared across categories, and themes are identified and refined.

Results: Prominent themes provided the foundation for program curricula and hub team selection and focused on improving health and nutrition literacy, mental/physical health, and community partnerships.

Conclusions: Oklahoma’s disparities have brought the educational and health communities together, yet the effectiveness of these initial relationships for professional learning over time is still to be determined and merits further exploration and evaluation. BHSC ECHO’s transdisciplinary, telemonitoring approach provides a model for sustainable, collaborative training, statewide networking, and successful health improvement. When networked professional learning and strategic partnerships are combined, the potential for capacity building and improvement expands exponentially and genuine change can occur.
Original languageAmerican English
Article number223
Number of pages9
JournalOklahoma State Medical Proceedings
Issue number1
StatePublished - 6 May 2024
Externally publishedYes


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