Abstract: Insights from a Community Advisory Board Supporting a Neighborhood Violence Intervention Project (Society for Social Work and Research 27th Annual Conference - Social Work Science and Complex Problems: Battling Inequities + Building Solutions)

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Insights from a Community Advisory Board Supporting a Neighborhood Violence Intervention Project

Friday, January 13, 2023
Valley of the Sun A, 2nd Level (Sheraton Phoenix Downtown)
* noted as presenting author
Emily Underwood, MSW, Doctoral Student, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA
Background: Community Advisory Boards (CABs) are often uniquely positioned as both protectors and sources of knowledge for community-level practice. This project interviewed six members of a CAB who have been providing guidance for a neighborhood violence prevention project, the goals of which are to enhance collective efficacy within the community, teach safe intervention strategies, and promote positive mental health. While the literature has identified opportunities for CABs to provide insight and strategy at every point of the research process from intervention formulation to product dissemination, there is a dearth of studies evaluating the impact of CABS on the ways in which community research is conducted nor are there many projects which measure partner engagement and feedback. To this end, this project utilized both qualitative and quantitative measures to explore CAB members’ perceptions of the project and their roles within it.

Methods: A focus group was held virtually in conjunction with the monthly Community Advisory Board meeting and any CAB member who had previously attended a meeting was invited to join. Six members participated whose backgrounds include mental health provider, clergy, youth services professionals, and community organizers. Participants were asked three questions: Why did you join the Community Advisory Board?, What do you think is working well about the CAB and the project?, and, What would you change about the CAB or the community violence prevention project?, to guide their conversation. Additionally, MentiMeter, an interactive software that was accessed anonymously via personal mobile device, was employed for participants to answer five scaled items taken from Measures of Community-Based Participatory Research Projects (Ohmer et al. 2019). These scales utilized a Likert-type rating system to measure agreement with statements including “This project emphasizes what is important to the community”, “This project builds on strengths and resources in the community”, and “Overall, I am satisfied with the amount of influence that each partner has over decisions in this partnership”.

The transcript of the conversation was recorded, and content analysis was conducted to identify themes in the group’s qualitative responses. The quantitative results from the scaled items were tabulated within the MentiMeter program and the mean response scores were displayed to the researcher.

Results: CAB feedback and Mentimeter responses highlighted the need for interventions that bring together both youth and adults to facilitate conversations about conflict resolution, violence prevention, and empowerment as they relate to youth violence. This information was aligned with trends that were being reported by local law enforcement, but the CAB participants were able to provide firsthand accounts of experiences with the phenomena and describe the community impacts, while also identifying gaps in services that were currently available.

Conclusions: This process demonstrates the importance of recognizing community member voices as an integral part of the social work research process. Viewing them as a source of knowledge and a resource for community empowerment to create sustainable, relevant interventions, CABs should be viewed as an essential part of neighborhood and community intervention planning.