Have you ever been part of a group where the social norms created pressure to behave a certain way?
Researchers who investigate the causes of specific health problems look at a wide range of influences on several different levels. For instance, if researchers were investigating obesity at the individual level, they could examine eating habits and frequency of sedentary activities like TV watching. If the health problems also are population wide, as obesity is, it is important from a public health standpoint to focus on community-level factors such as availability of healthy foods and recreational facilities.
Communities and organizations have personalities and can resist change in a manner similar to how individuals can become set in their ways. Have you ever been part of a group where the social norms created pressure to behave a certain way? One possible strategy for changing behaviors is to address a community or organization rather than individuals. For this you would use theories geared to groups rather than to individuals.
The article by Krug et al. in the Learning Resources discusses violence and health and explores how the causes of violence can be viewed at many different levels. Although violence is commonly thought of as happening between individuals, community-level factors may be adding to the problem:
“The third level explores the community context—i.e., schools, workplaces, and neighborhoods. Risk at this level may be affected by factors such as the existence of a local drug trade, the absence of social networks, and poverty. All these factors have been shown to be important in several types of violence” (Krug et al., 2002, p. 1085).
For this Discussion, consider community level factors that might contribute to injury-related public health problem that is present in a country or a community with these thoughts in mind:
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