ADOLESCENT ENGAGEMENT WITHIN COMMUNITY-BASED PUBLIC HEALTH EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS AND RESPONSE ORGANIZATIONS: AN ASSESSMENT OF THE MEDICAL RESERVE CORPS
emergency preparedness and response
maternal and child health
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractParticipation in risky behaviors is a common threat to an adolescent's health. Youth engagement (YE), a youth's meaningful and sustained participation in an activity, is a way to help reduce that threat. The Medical Reserve Corps (MRC), a public health emergency preparedness and response organization, has opportunities for engaging youth. However, few adolescents participate in MRC activities, signaling network-wide variations in working with youth. Furthermore, there is a gap in the literature exploring YE in emergency preparedness organizations, including the MRC. The purpose of this dissertation was to better understand youth engagement and development within organizations like these. With the MRC as the example and youth development theories as the lens, YE was examined as well as challenges and benefits of YE, needs, and use of YE strategies within the MRC. An exploratory sequential mixed-methods approach was used to assess YE in the MRC: Phase I- key informant interviews of youth (ages 14-18) and adults in and out of MRC (N=17); and Phase II- a nationwide web-based survey of adult MRC unit leaders (N=215). Qualitative data was analyzed with Microsoft Word and Excel; quantitative data analyzed with Stata 12.0. Results revealed common challenges experienced by MRC units working with youth, including liability concerns. Benefits found include preparation of the youth for future careers and giving youth a focus beyond themselves. A Spearman's correlation found a statistically significant association (r=0.30, N=52, p=0.0288) between the use of the core YE principles and the level of youth participation among the MRC units with youth membership, meaning use of these principles may be helpful in better involving youth. Furthermore, "Building Youth and Adult Capacity" was the top YE principle used among the MRC units that allow youth membership to engage youth. Despite noted challenges, engaging adolescents in the MRC still has many benefits with long-term public health and maternal and child implications for youth in emergency preparedness organizations. These include development of a responsible youth that protects their peers, families, and local communities from public health challenges, positively impacting the community. Recommendations for building student MRC programs across the nation have been provided.
Degree ProgramGraduate College