Jim Burdine on How to Present Community Assessment Data Back to a Community

I’m Jim Burdine and a few weeks ago I posted a “tip-a-day” (see post here) on presenting community health assessment data back to the community. This is part two of that discussion. Last time I focused on “what to present” this posting focuses on “how to present . . . with results.”

There are two goals for any assessment presentation: (1) reporting the data, and (2) identifying next steps for improving health status. I’ve used a format that is effective in a variety of settings. This assumes, as discussed in my last posting, that the assessment has been a “participatory process.”

Hot Tip: Hold a “regional health summit.” Folks invited include those who have participated in various aspects of the assessment as well as others representing a broad cross section of community sectors. My experience has largely been in medium to smaller communities (500K to 10K population) but participation is roughly the same – about 150-250 folks is a good turnout. The event is split into two parts and can be accomplished in one day or two. The two parts are a presentation of the data, followed by a workshop. Ideally the data presentation is limited to an hour and the actual presentation, or much of it, is by a community member. Avoid the temptation to have more than a couple of speakers – “inclusiveness” is a nice idea but counterproductive in this context. You can invite community members to do “welcomes” and other remarks.

Following the data presentation is another opportunity to develop for community buy-in. In the workshop, we ask folks to select among the “findings” of the assessment (e.g., “access to mental health,” “childhood obesity,” “rural transportation”) and sign up for those topics. Have rooms/tables setup for each group. A convener appointed for each group opens the discussion and is responsible for encouraging folks to commit to participating in an ad hoc task group on this topic that that would agree to meet 2-3 times over the next 2-3 months. At the end of that time (3 months) the larger group is reconvened to hear reports from the various ad hoc task groups and then to endorse a regional health improvement strategy developed at that session (based on the group reports). During the 2-3 month work period, each team reviews pertinent findings and identifies “best practices” of interventions related to that issue. The group then identifies one or two priority activities that incorporate those best practices as adapted to your community.

By following this model, what might have been just a data presentation yields a comprehensive regional strategy with multiple sub-parts that is endorsed by the entire community (at least as represented by the individuals and agencies participating in the overall process).

This contribution is from the aea365 Daily Tips blog, by and for evaluators, from the American Evaluation Association. Please consider contributing – send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org.

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