"Citizen participation" is a concept advocated by those who are working to reduce health disparities. Will citizens, especially those who are not part of the health and human service structure of communities, participate in community-based programs to improve the health of communities? Which citizens tend to participate and which do not? What conditions need to exist to foster genuine and long-term participation? There are answers to many of these questions in the results from The Colorado Healthy Communities Initiative (CHCI). This $8.8 million program involved 28 large and small communities undertaking community-based health promotion using citizen participation. During the 8-year initiative (from 1992-1999), citizens in each community aimed at bringing together a broad group of community participants, who reflected the diversity of their community, to work on community health improvement. The group (about 50 per community, on average) worked together to define a vision of "health" (broadly conceived) for their community, and then undertook actions to achieve it. We will review past theoretical and empirical work on the concept of "citizen participation" to anchor the discussion. Using data from 1,090 stakeholders in 28 communities, we will discuss the types of citizens who were and were not involved in the CHCI projects, in terms of individual demographic characteristics and community sectors. We also will discuss the lessons learned from the Colorado communities about the benefits and challenges of citizen participation, about the differences between "citizen representation" and "citizen participation," and the implications for future programs or research in this area.
Learning Objectives: 1. Describe the different types of citizen participation 2. Articulate the components and main outcomes of the Colorado Healthy Communities Initiative 3. List the outcomes from the Colorado project related to citizen participation 4. Develop new ideas about what citizen participation is, how it is best fostered and how future projects could be structured to facilitate it
Keywords: Community Participation, Community Involvement
Presenting author's disclosure statement:
Organization/institution whose products or services will be discussed: [Note: I'm not sure this information is necessary but I am submitting it, in the event that you judge that it is.] The program and the research were supported by The Colorado Trust, a foundation
I have a significant financial interest/arrangement or affiliation with any organization/institution whose products or services are being discussed in this session.
Relationship: The sponsor of the Colorado Healthy Communities Initiative provided a research evaluation grant to the University of California Irvine for this work.
The 128th Annual Meeting of APHA