Available Until 6/19/2024

Providing Consumer Health Information in Underserved Rural Areas*

For more information or to schedule this course, please contact Emily Weyant Blevins at weyant@etsu.edu

Successfully providing consumer health information to specific populations relies on knowing how to build a connection between your information resources and your audience. This course will take you through this process from beginning to end using free authoritative health information materials and activities. This class will help you uncover ways to use health information materials with theoretical communities as well as your own populations. Although our focus will be primarily on rural and underserved communities, as that is our experience and expertise, the main principals of this course can be applied to building information outreach initiatives with other types of communities as well.

Resource URL: [Pending]

Learning Objectives

  1. Students will know how to use resources highlighted to research their communities / assess potential community concerns.
  2. Students will know how to match authoritative health information materials with identified community concerns.
  3. Students will build a brief outreach plan outlining potential community collaborators, health concerns to highlight, materials to promote, and potential roadblocks to expect.


10 Min: Introduction

Instructors discuss their background providing consumer health information to rural and underserved communities

Instructors highlight some important aspects of working with underserved rural communities

10 Min: The Community Health Assessment Toolkit: Adapted for Librarian Consumer Health Information Outreach Initiatives

Instructors discuss the intersection of library consumer health outreach and public health outreach.

Instructors introduce the adapted version of this Toolkit and explain the class activities. 

10 Min: ACTIVITY 1/STEP 1:  Reflect on the type of consumer health information outreach program that you would like to lead.

10 Min: The Importance of Community

5 min: ACTIVITY 2/STEP 2: Clearly define the community that you intend to serve.

20 Min: Intro to Using Public Health Community Needs Assessments as a Librarian

Instructors discuss community health assessment tools and their use for outreach research

  • Example community health assessment tools
  • Instructors demonstrate using community health assessment tools using an example of a rural, underserved community in East Tennessee.

10 Min: ACTIVITY 3/STEP 3: Collect and analyze data regarding your community’s health related needs.

15 Min: Identifying Allies and Stakeholders

Instructors discuss the importance of identifying collaborators, potentially even before securing funding 

Instructors discuss the process of reaching out to potential collaborators.

10 Min: Salesmanship and Mindset

Instructors discuss basic salesmanship techniques and mindset.

5 Min: ACTIVITY/STEP 4: Identify and engage stakeholders or potential collaborators.

15 Min: Planning a Consumer Health Information Outreach Initiative

Instructors discuss moving from gathering background information and making collaborative connections in the community to developing an official plan of action for an outreach initiative. They highlight some important considerations for planning the actual outreach initiative. These include timeline, budget, staffing, partner commitments, materials used, and evaluations planned.

15 Min: ACTIVITY/STEP 5: Plan and outline your consumer health information outreach initiative. 

10 Min: Beginning Outreach Activities (Step 6)

Instructors discuss outreach activities performed by their library over the year and relay some advice for other librarians, specifically as it relates to rural and underserved community outreach.'

10 Min: Documenting and Communicating the Results of Your Outreach Project (Step 7)

Instructors discuss the different ways in which librarians can document their project process. Not all outreach initiatives will be successes, but, if they are not, they can easily be framed as lessons learned or wisdom to impart to others. This is important not only for reporting to funders, but also to build the knowledge base of other librarians seeking to do similar work in their own communities.

10 Min: Project Evaluation (Step 8)

In closing out any outreach project, instructors suggest some form of evaluation. This is usually required by a granting body, but, if not, it is important to do for your own knowledge if nothing else. Evaluations can provide important information on what went well and what could be improved on this project in the future. Different evaluation options will be discussed, including focus groups and surveys designed to assess the effectiveness of an entire project.

10 Min: Each group will present a different step of the toolkit that they have been recording throughout the class.

5 Min: Wrap-Up and Consultation Time (consult only if there is spare time): Students will be given an opportunity to discuss any outreach initiatives that they would like to implement in their communities. Other students and instructors will provide feedback and suggestions about ways that students could improve their projects or potential pitfalls that they may want to watch out for.

MLA CE Credits: 3