Community engagement has been given different interpretations by scholars and organisations; in addition, current scientific literature has not reached a consensus on how it is defined. This difference in conceptualisation may lead to confusion regarding the meaning. The researcher observed that academic staff from the Faculty of Health Science at an institution of higher education in Namibia are not certain of what counts as community engagement. This has led to some activities from the faculty being cancelled from the institutional review reports as they were not recognised as community engagement.
Concept analysis was done in accordance with the eight steps of the Walker and Avant model. A literature search was conducted to capture all potential definitions and uses of community engagement. A total of 225 definitions and uses of community engagement were recorded and used in the concept analysis. A list of definitions and uses of the concept of community engagement were documented with their citations, in a table with three columns. The first column (analysis) consisted of the identified definitions and uses of community engagement from the relevant literature. The second column (synthesis) consisted of reduced statements of the content presented in the first column. The third column (derivation) consisted of the final reduction into categories and connotations derived from the second column.
Three broad categories were revealed as findings: (1) the antecedents of community engagement, which included community challenges, health inequalities, societal needs and the need for a social responsive approach in education, research and services; (2) a three-phase process of community engagement; and (3) the outcomes of community engagement. A theoretical definition and a conceptual map for the concept of community engagement were drawn from the findings.