245470 Engaging the community to develop a holistic health portrait of youth from underserved neighborhoods

Monday, October 31, 2011

Lisa S. Wolff, ScD , Research and Evaluation Department, Health Resources in Action, Boston, MA
Deborah Dickerson, CSW , Office of Child Advocacy, Children's Hospital Boston, Boston, MA
Christine Locke Healey, MPH , Office of Child Advocacy, Children's Hospital Boston, Boston, MA
Amy B. Helburn, MPH , Regional Center for Health Communities, Health Resources in Action, Dorchester, MA
Shari Sprong, MEd , Regional Center for Health Communities, Health Resources in Action, Dorchester, MA
M. Laurie Cammisa, Esq , Office of Child Advocacy, Children's Hospital Boston, Boston, MA
While numerous community stakeholders are working to improve the health of children and adolescents, often their efforts focus on one distinct aspect of health. To better understand youth health holistically, Children's Hospital Boston engaged a range of individuals in a community assessment. This effort aimed to provide a comprehensive portrait of the health issues—and social and economic factors that impact these issues—facing youth in Boston's underserved communities.

In addition to analyzing epidemiological data, 10 focus groups with 91 parents and youth were conducted to understand first-hand not only their health concerns, but also the challenges and successes encountered in addressing them. Also, 29 in-depth interviews were conducted with a wide range of stakeholders, including members of the faith community, schools, housing agencies, local government, early intervention programs, and community health centers. Interviews focused on understanding the larger social and economic context in which children and their families lived and worked and identifying opportunities for collaborative partnerships in the community to improve children's health.

Qualitative research revealed that while obesity, asthma, teen pregnancy, and mental health were important health concerns, other social and economic issues—neighborhood violence, economic opportunities, and educational attainment—were considered equally as pressing. Conversely, community cohesion and activism were viewed as strong protective factors, and a resource which community programs should tap into. By engaging a wide range of youth, parents, and stakeholders, this effort was able to provide a more comprehensive, holistic portrait of youth health and identify opportunities for coordination and collaboration.

Learning Areas:
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Program planning
Public health or related research
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Identify ways to engage a range of community stakeholders to discuss important youth health issues Explain why the larger social and economic context of families’ lives cannot be disentangled from discussions on health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I was the Principal Investigator on this project.
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.