Community Leader Perceptions of the Health Needs of Older Adults

Document Type


Publication Date



The purpose of this needs assessment was to determine community leader perceptions of health-related needs and resources available to rural-dwelling older adults as part of a community–academic partnership in the rural Midwest. A community advisory board, in accordance with community-based participatory research principles, was influential in study design and implementation. Key informant interviews (N = 30) were conducted with community leaders including professionals from schools, businesses, churches, and health care as well as government officials. Thematic analysis revealed “Family Is Central,” “Heritage,” “Strength,” and “Longevity” as important themes related to older adults and their health care needs within the community. “Close-knit” and “Church Is Central” were also identified as important aspects of elder care. Community leaders perceived the “Rural Economy,” “Distance to Resources,” and “Seasonal Resources” as significant barriers for older adults. This work contributes important insights into community leaders’ perceptions of health needs and challenges faced by older adults in rural settings.