184950 Step one: Assessing community readiness for disparities mobilization

Monday, October 27, 2008: 1:15 PM

Linda Sprague Martinez, MA, MA , Community Health Program, Tufts University, Medford, MA
Flavia Perea, MSEd, MA , PhD Candidate Social Policy, Brandeis University, Somerville, MA
Elmer Freeman, MSW, PhD(c) , Center for Community Health Education Research and Service, Boston, MA
Community engagement is a critical component in addressing health disparities, as community support at multiple levels has the power to move both programmatic and policy interventions forward. Gauging community readiness affords public health practitioners, policy makers and grassroots organizers an understanding of community interests, concerns, needs, strengths and assets, while facilitating mobilization through partnership development. In an effort to engage communities across the state of Massachusetts, Critical MASS, a public-private partnership that extends beyond the healthcare delivery system to include grassroots action at the local, regional and state levels, in partnership with local researchers piloted a readiness assessment to identify community assets, perceptions about health disparities, needs, concerns, ascertain interest in partnership development, and build community capacity.

Once the research phase of the project was complete, local community leaders and members of Critical MASS came together with researchers to discuss the findings. As a result of the project, a relationship was formed based on the needs of the community and the action phase of the project began. The community, with technical assistance and support from Critical MASS, co-organized a community conference on disparities aimed at bringing legislative attention to community concerns. In addition, multi-sectorial partnerships were formed to build community capacity, and included work to identify funding opportunities to tackle disparities and associated issues. This paper highlights the assessment process and the resulting community efforts, in addition to discussing the challenges, facilitating factors, lessons learned and next steps.

Learning Objectives:
Participants will learn: Best practices for community assessment How to identify community assets How to build community capacity How to engage community in action

Keywords: Collaboration, Community Involvement

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I conducted the research associated with the project. I also teach a class related to the material proposed for presentation
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.