184723 Street outreach workers, youth violence prevention, and community health: What it takes to work for peace in Lowell, Massachusetts

Wednesday, October 29, 2008: 9:00 AM

Shannon Frattaroli, PhD, MPH , Health Policy and Management, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD
Keshia Pollack, PhD, MPH , Department of Health Policy and Management, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD
Background: Street Outreach Worker (SOW) interventions are an increasingly common and promising strategy for youth violence prevention and health promotion. How these programs work, and their relationships with community agencies is important to understand, particularly for future replication efforts. As part of a larger evaluation of an SOW program in Lowell, Massachusetts, we conducted a process evaluation to document and describe the Lowell SOW program.

Methods: We conducted in-depth, semi-structured interviews with the SOWs and management staff (n=7), and 2 focus groups with community partners (n=15). We also reviewed organizational documents, and observed community events sponsored by the organization. All interviews were digitally recorded and transcribed. We analyzed the transcripts using a qualitative software package and identified explanatory themes.

Results: Data analysis revealed four themes. Interviewees described qualities such as “having a connection to the community,” dedicated, good communicator, “able to laugh at yourself,” and “ability to connect with youth” as essential characteristics for SOWs. They also cited the SOW team dynamic as supportive and strong, and attributed part of the program's success to the high functioning team. The SOWs are well-integrated into the Lowell youth serving agencies, and these relationships with community partners are viewed as central to the program. Interviewees also emphasized the trust that the SOWs and the organization have with youth in explaining their impact.

Conclusion: There are common and identifiable qualities of Lowell SOWs and an approach to their work that can inform the general understanding of SOWs, and replication efforts.

Learning Objectives:
Describe a Street Outreach Worker Program. Identify 3 qualities of a good Street Outreach Worker. Discuss the hypothesized relationship between the Street Outreach Workers and youth violence prevention.

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I was involved in the design of this study, as well as the data collection and analysis.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.