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CP TIG Week: About Evaluating Health Promotion Efforts by LaShaune P. Johnson

Howdy, 365ers!   My name is LaShaune P. Johnson, I am faculty at Creighton University and the founder of Estella Lucia Evaluation, LLC.  I have a passion for health promotion, particularly among families of color.  I have been a researcher and evaluator for projects on African American breast cancer, childhood obesity, adolescent sexual health, and Muslim maternal/child health.    

Lessons Learned: In my work, I have found that solutions for families’ health inequities can be found in the domains that community psychology emphasizes: social, cultural, economic, political, and environmental.  Evaluating health promotion efforts requires trusting, ongoing, and widespread partnerships with diverse stakeholders up, middle, and downstream.

Hot Tip: Consistent with the empowerment and action-oriented values of community psychology, I use community-based research and evaluation methods (like Photovoice and arts-based evaluation) to understand the structural violence families are experiencing.

The details of evaluations will vary, in order to adapt to the needs of the target populations, however I have found that there are three bits of advice that have served me well.  They align with the 2019 AEA conference themes.

  • Renewal: Community psychology is breathing new life info health promotion.  Community psychology offers tools that facilitate the co-creation (with community members) of culturally-responsive tools and methods that reflect the lived experiences of your target community.  Before the evaluation begins, aim to create a team that can provide ongoing insight into the cultural, economic, social, ability, and linguistic needs of the community.

            Rad resource: The National Research Center on Hispanic Children & Families has an excellent guide to cultural responsiveness.

  • Leadership:   The details of the causes and treatments of medical conditions can often be difficult to comprehend for the average community member, but they often are very aware of the impact of their disparate healthcare access and their lack of access to health-promoting environments.  Community psychology looks for community strengths—there are wonderful storytellers in every community!  By hearing the stories of how they navigate the healthcare landscape, you will learn about the impact of policy, patient-provider communication, transportation, and much more.

            Rad resource:  Omaha Community Foundation has an excellent resource that details how they obtained powerful community stories about journeys to wellness: http://www.thelandscapeomaha.org/About-Us/Stories.

  • Contribution:  Finally, community psychology’s values and principles allow us to think across systems and to reflect upon how we can help co-create health equity across the life course.  Because community psychologists are involved in ongoing formal and informal equity work, we are given opportunities to make and remake our roles in the community.  In order to be most effective, evaluators should consider adopting an over-arching framework.  This framework should allow for collaborative conversations with community members, policy makers, and providers on issues of data collection, data reporting, and advocacy.

            Rad resource:  Healthy Places By Design outlines a 3P action cycle that provides an excellent roadmap for evaluators who will be making and remaking their roles in equity efforts.

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating CP TIG Week with our colleagues in the Community Psychology Topical Interest Group. The contributions all week come from CP TIG members. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

2 thoughts on “CP TIG Week: About Evaluating Health Promotion Efforts by LaShaune P. Johnson”

  1. sasha Goudriaan

    Dear Dr. Johnson,

    Thank you for your article on AEA365. I am new to the study of program evaluation and found your article helpful in gaining a more complete appreciation of the importance of community involvement in the evaluation process as well as the use of evaluation tools that are responsive to the cultural experiences of people. Your shared links and resources were great and clearly showed the complexities in dealing with health inequity.

    Your community psychology approach to evaluation is an inspired way to develop inclusivity and validate the experience of individuals and community through the use of evaluation practices and research that emphasize social justice. I also like the approach of developing reliable partnerships with a wide range of stakeholders that influence other important social determinants of health.

    I am currently taking a course on Program Evaluation for my Masters and am just beginning to understand how powerful a well-structured evaluation can be. As part of the course, I am putting a program evaluation together using a Compassion Program for Lymphedema patients. Lymphedema is chronic swelling that is often experienced post cancer treatment. In my research I found that the patterns of care for Black women with breast cancer were different from their white counterparts at each phase of the cancer treatment process and I was not sure how to build that finding into my evaluation. In the research there was often not a clear single cause identified as responsible for the disparity in care and outcomes. It was seen often as a confluence of factors: regional interventions, socioeconomic factors, obesity rates, different hospital practices, access to care, etc. This diversity of factors makes it clear why, if we want to create real change and not just implement the immediate health interventions required, we must include a wide range of stakeholders. Only then is it possible to address the social needs and fundamental causes that perpetuate discrepancies in health issues.

    Thank you for your hot tip for community-based research and evaluation methods. The Omaha community stories were particularly powerful. It has inspired me to consider Photovoice to get patients to document their experiences of navigating the health care system. It seems like a great way to initiate ongoing and meaningful conversation with policy makers on access to care and better reflect the values associated with health equity.

    Thanks for your article it is jam-packed with gems!

    sasha Goudriaan

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