4180.0: Tuesday, November 14, 2000 - 2:42 PM

Abstract #12466

Dynamics of development in community health coalitions

Shoshanna Sofaer, DrPH, School of Public Affairs, Baruch College, 17 Lexington Avenue, Box C401, New York, NY 10010, (212) 802-5980, shoshanna_sofaer@baruch.cuny.edu and Erin Kenney, PhD, Consultant, 3225 Whittier Street, San Diego, CA 92106.

Many public and private funders require grantees to form coalitions, partnerships or consortia to perform such difficult tasks as setting priorities; developing complex change strategies; and reaching vulnerable populations. We posit that community health coalitions need time to develop so they can take on these tasks effectively and remain responsive to diverse members. Based on existing literature, we articulated a framework for coalition development with four stages: “Getting to Know You”; “Getting Ready for Action”; “Taking Action”; and “Death or Transfiguration.” We used this framework in assessing 12 statewide coalitions supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s SmokeLess States Initiative. Based on three years of field research, involving key informant interviews, structured observations and content analysis of documents, we learned that coalition development is not always a linear progression. Coalitions challenged to perform roles more suited to a later stage of development can, in the short-term, “leapfrog” ahead to complete an urgent task. Afterwards, however, they often cycle back to their earlier stage of development, to rebuild a more long-lasting foundation for the future. Defeats and successes can both result in cycling back. Coalitions can fail to progress and take joint action if there are insufficient resources to support basic group functioning; if no natural leaders emerge; if most participants see no “added value” in the coalition for their organization or agenda; or if conflicts either rage unresolved between the strongest group members or are unacknowledged. On the other hand, facing and resolving conflicts can move coalition development forward.

Learning Objectives: At the end of this presentation, audience members will be able to: 1. Identify four stages of development of community health coalitions. 2. Describe the characteristics of coalitions at each of these stages. 3. Describe possible consequences of requiring coalitions to undertake tasks that are developmentally inappropriate. 4. Identify 4 factors that can keep a coalition from progressing developmentally to the point where they can take effective action

Keywords: Coalition, Community Health Programs

Presenting author's disclosure statement:
Organization/institution whose products or services will be discussed: None
I do not have any significant financial interest/arrangement or affiliation with any organization/institution whose products or services are being discussed in this session.

The 128th Annual Meeting of APHA