Ethnographically informed community evaluation: A framework and approach for evaluating community-based initiatives

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Robert E. Aronson, Associate Professor (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
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Abstract: Objectives: This paper describes ethnographically informed community evaluation (EICE), a framework for evaluating complex community-based interventions, and illustrates its use in the evaluation of Baltimore City Healthy Start, a federally funded infant mortality prevention project. EICE, which is influenced by cultural anthropology and assets-based community assessment, supports continuous program improvement, resident involvement, and measurement of community-level change. This approach takes into account both individual and contextual levels of analysis. Methods: The evaluation coupled a participatory approach with qualitative and survey research methods to study community context and how it might contribute to infant mortality and influence program implementation, and to assess community change resulting from the program. Data collection included focus groups, key informant interviews, surveys, neighborhood mapping, journaling, and a study of community problem-solving. Results: The evaluation provided program-related feedback to staff, contributed to a collective understanding of the local context, validated and augmented outcome findings, and imparted skills and a sense of empowerment to the neighborhood. Results reveal a community burdened by crime and social problems, yet showing great diversity in physical and social conditions when examined at the census block group level. Nevertheless, these social and physical hazards in the community are more salient than any specific health issue such as infant mortality. Conclusions: EICE is a powerful evaluation approach able to respond to the complexities of community-based maternal and child health initiatives designed to institute changes across multiple domains. EICE may be used, in whole or in part, as a supplement to traditional designs.

Additional Information

Maternal and Child Health Journal, 11:97-109
Language: English
Date: 2007
Evaluation, Community-based research, Ethnography, Public health, Maternal and child health, Infant mortality, Qualitative research methods

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