Society for Social Work and Research

Sixteenth Annual Conference Research That Makes A Difference: Advancing Practice and Shaping Public Policy
11-15 January 2012 I Grand Hyatt Washington I Washington, DC

156 Improving and Sustaining Community Health Through Coalition-Building: Lessons Learned From Three Community-Level Intervention Research Projects

Saturday, January 14, 2012: 4:30 PM-6:15 PM
Penn Quarter B (Grand Hyatt Washington)
Cluster: Social Work Practice
Symposium Organizer:
Valerie B. Shapiro, PhD, University of Washington
Social work has a long history of community practice (Weil, 2005). Community practice models integrate elements of community social and economic development, social planning, and community organizing for progressive social change with the intention to impact the community members that participate in the community practice process and the community members that stand to benefit from the community practice outcome. In a review conducted on the community practice literature from 1985 to 2001, Ohmer & Korr (2006) found 269 articles on community practice, only 20 of which were intervention studies. Of these intervention studies, only nine used a comparison group or longitudinal design, and only a single study (Wagenaar et al., 1999) used an experimental design to allow attribution of observed effects to the intervention. There is a clear need for the social work profession to continue assessing our community-practice strategies to determine which strategies reliably support community goals.

This symposium will share the findings from three community-based projects that use diverse research methods to build our knowledge base for community-level interventions. Each intervention attempts to effectuate system change to improve community health through a coalition building mechanism, such that an infrastructure is created to mobilize a community, reform the status quo, and sustain progress. Each paper argues that a macro-practice approach is essential to sustainable change, in the true spirit of social work's person-in-environment approach.

The first paper studies a coalition of 30 healthcare providers who came together to improve the healthcare services provided to political refugees in a suburban Minnesota community. This mixed method participatory action evaluation revealed changes in provider knowledge and attitudes as well as to their respective organizational processes. These changes included increased awareness, improved processes for working with survivors, improved networking and referrals, and broadened collaborations.

The second paper studies 11 community coalitions that utilized the Strategic Prevention Framework to reduce problem drinking in New Jersey. This evaluation allowed researchers to study how community-based coalitions can use a comprehensive needs assessment to inform the implementation of environmental change strategies. Analysis of observational, archival, and survey data revealed, for example, one coalition that used geographical data containing liquor outlet density and alcohol-related motor vehicle crash data to inform a media campaign and beverage server trainings.

The final paper studies 24 communities across 7 states that were randomized to conduct their coalition business as usual, or use the Communities That Care (CTC) prevention system, to address local health promotion goals. Although previous papers have shown that communities using the CTC system ultimately adopt a more scientific approach to prevention (Brown, et al., 2007) and have lower rates of delinquency and substance use relative to control communities (Hawkins, et al., 2009), this presentation will describe the extent to which CTC is a sustainable model of community-practice by examining the survival of the coalitions 1.5 years after study funding was withdrawn.

Each panelist will describe their method of community practice and the lessons learned from their community-based research project about using coalitions to build sustainable change for community health. 011-->

* noted as presenting author
Building Community Capacity for Healing Refugee Trauma: Evaluation of the New Neighbors Providers Network
Patricia Shannon, PhD, University of Minnesota-Twin Cities; Jennifer Simmelink, MSW, University of Minnesota-Twin Cities; Hyojin Im, MA, University of Minnesota-Twin Cities
Community Coalitions, Needs Assessments, and Environmental Strategies: How to Create Sustainable Change Using a National Substance Abuse Prevention Framework
Kristen Powell, MSW, Rutgers University; Cory M. Morton, MSW, Rutgers University; Donald K. Hallcom, PhD, New Jersey Department of Human Services; N. Andrew Peterson, PhD, Rutgers University
Exploring the Sustainability of Community-Based Interventions: Community-Level Effects of “Communities That Care” 1.5 Years Later
Kari M. Gloppen, MPH, University of Washington; Michael W. Arthur, PhD, University of Washington; Valerie B. Shapiro, PhD, University of Washington; J. David Hawkins, PhD, University of Washington
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