Rural community leaders' perceptions of environmental health risks: improving community health.
Qualitative description was used to explore how rural community leaders frame, interpret, and give meaning to environmental health issues affecting their constituents and communities. Six rural community leaders discussed growth, vulnerable families, and the action avoidance strategies they use or see used in lieu of adopting health-promoting behaviors. Findings suggest intervention strategies should be economical, use common sense, be sensitive to regional identity, and use local case studies and "inside leadership." Occupational health nurses addressing the disparate environmental health risks in rural communities are encouraged to use agenda-neutral, scientifically based risk communication efforts and foster collaborative relationships among nurses, planners, industry, and other community leaders.