Semester of Graduation

Fall 2022


Master of Science (MS)


School of Nutrition and Food Sciences

Document Type



Louisiana consistently has one of the highest rates of obesity in the nation with higher concentrations of obesity in many rural parishes (i.e., counties). Due to over a century of visibility and engagement in rural communities, Cooperative Extension (Extension) is uniquely poised to reach remote rural communities disproportionately impacted by obesity. As Extension increases its use of community coalitions and implements its new National Framework for Health Equity and Well-Being, understanding motivations and communication preferences among long-term rural coalition partners for obesity prevention and health promotion has become essential for duplicating successful local-level policy, system, and environmental (PSE) changes. This study explores motivations among LSU AgCenter Healthy Communities coalition members in three rural Louisiana parishes covered by the CDC High Obesity Program (HOP) – Madison, St. Helena, and Assumption. Semi-structured focus group discussions (FGD) with current coalition members (n=9) addressed motivations for joining and sustaining participation in coalitions, preferred means of communication, and current communication practices both internally and externally. FGDs were transcribed manually and coded using Dedoose qualitative analysis software to identify significant themes. Participants reported that recruiting key community members, keeping coalition members informed, celebrating progress and successes publicly, and maintaining a collaborative environment were major motivators for their sustained participation in LSU AgCenter-led coalitions. Participants also reported significant difficulty sustaining engagement from other residents, mainly due to apathy among community members. Further research should examine: (1) whether these themes apply to coalitions facilitated by Extension programs across the state and (2) possible barriers and disincentives among rural residents who do not actively participate in coalitions.



Committee Chair

Holston, Denise