Some of the strategic gatekeepers in the community include primary care physicians. The primary care physicians deal with health problems that are related to obesity on a daily basis. They have a deep understanding of the community and the level of the obesity problem and also have a lot of information from the patients they serve. People often have a high degree of trust to the people that provide medical services to them and therefore are less likely to disclose a lot of information to the physicians about their lifestyles and other factors that may be affecting their health. Primary care physicians are also reliable gatekeepers especially the ones that have worked in the community for a long period because they know the changes that have taken place in the patterns of obesity in children as well as some of the contributing factors. The physicians also have some degree of influence in the community and therefore are useful when it comes to convincing people on what should be done and also the benefits. The physicians also can be able to reach a large number of people in the population during their daily operations and it, therefore, makes them suitable gatekeepers (Eldredge, Markham, Ruiter, Kok & Parcel, 2016)
The other group of formal gatekeepers comprises of religious leaders. Religious leaders have a lot of influence on the population they serve and they are very critical to passing messages (McKenzie, Neiger & Thackeray, 2016). Getting the approval from the religious leaders in the community is necessary because the target population is likely to embrace what is being prescribed by their religious leaders. It is very challenging to implement an intervention that is facing criticism from the religious leaders because they can influence the population to reject it or show no interest even where it appears to be beneficial. Most religious people in a community trust their religious leader, and there is open communication between them and therefore using the religious leaders to communicate with the community members is likely to be effective. Another advantage of gaining the support of the religious leaders is because most religious institutions are actively involved in promoting social programs like feeding the hungry and giving the homeless somewhere to live. Having seen the advantage of such interventions from religious groups and their tangible benefits, the community is likely to accept the new intervention that is being introduced through a joint effort with the religious leaders to deal with obesity in children. Most religious leaders know where their members live and can be very useful in the identification of vulnerable people and therefore enhance the effectiveness of the new intervention being introduced.
The other group of formal gatekeepers is comprised of teachers. Teachers have direct contact with the target group in the study because they spend a lot of time with the children and understand their challenges better. Teachers also are in contact with the parents and also have the trust of the parents in matters that relate to their children. Teachers are therefore critical in passing information to the children as well as the parents. Children are also used to asking their teachers questions, and therefore the teachers are better placed in helping the children gain understanding on the intervention as well as monitoring the progress of the target population for the intervention. The informal gatekeepers will include the food vendors because they understand the types of foods that their customers like and why they prefer them. The food vendors will be critical in monitoring the progress of the intervention and whether parents have embraced a healthy diet for their children.
The steps for gaining buy-in for the formal and informal gatekeepers will begin by the education of the gatekeepers about the severity of the problem and the role they can play in helping the community. The physicians will be enlightened on how the intervention will complement their efforts and help the patients deal with their obesity-related problems much efficiently. The teachers will also be shown the importance of participating in the intervention as a way of helping the children stay in school by reducing the chances of missing classes due to health problems associated with obesity. The church leaders, on the other hand, will be educated on how their participation might help in reducing the burden of hospital bills for their members because more and more members will have healthy children. The food vendors, on the other hand, will be shown how their businesses will grow if they participate because more customers will come to their places to buy foods with healthy ingredients. When all the gatekeepers realize that the intervention positively in one way or another they will be much willing to support its implementation for the people to enjoy the perceived benefits. The gatekeepers are also likely to come up with creative ways of making the intervention work and also sustainable because they have a deep understanding of the community (McAreavey & Das, 2013).
Eldredge, L. K. B., Markham, C. M., Ruiter, R. A., Kok, G., & Parcel, G. S. (2016). Planning health promotion programs: an intervention mapping approach. John Wiley & Sons.
McAreavey, R., & Das, C. (2013). A delicate balancing act: Negotiating with gatekeepers for ethical research when researching minority communities. International Journal of Qualitative Methods, 12(1), 113-131.
McKenzie, J. F., Neiger, B. L., & Thackeray, R. (2016). Planning, implementing & evaluating health promotion programs: A primer. Pearson.