Committed, ambivalent, concealed, or distanced: community organisations’ perceptions of their role in local prevention systems

Kathleen P. Conte*, Tayhla Ryder, Liza Hopkins, Maria Gomez, Therese Riley

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Prevention of chronic diseases happens within systems of action across whole communities. In local communities, organisations play important roles that influence health, but many are in non-health sectors where health or ‘prevention’ is not their main remit. In this paper, we explore how organisations in communities perceive their role as part of a local system of chronic disease prevention. We use interview data from ‘Prevention Tracker’, an investigation undertaken with Australian communities that aimed to describe how local prevention systems are organised. Four communities participated – one regional, one remote, and two urban. In each, local advisory groups identified key informants for semi-structured interviews (n = 80). We applied the Ottawa Charter for Health Promotion as a sensitising framework to categorise responses; and undertook inductive thematic analysis to generate deeper insights into organisations’ orientation to prevention. While some respondents clearly recognised and articulated linkages between their organisation’s activities and prevention, sometimes drawing from health promotion principles to do so, many did not and were prompted by the interview to consider their contributions. A proportion explicitly distanced themselves from prevention despite their work directly addressing the social determinants that underscore health. For some, this distancing reflects a tactical decision to reduce competition and promote partnership between organisations, and to engage clients. This study demonstrates that diverse organisations make contributions to prevention – often outside of ‘core business’ – whether or not the organisations themselves realise, relate to and/or self-identify as playing this role.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)252-262
Number of pages11
JournalCritical Public Health
Issue number2
Early online date30 Jul 2020
Publication statusPublished - 15 Mar 2022


  • Prevention
  • community organisations
  • health promotion
  • systems thinking


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