MSI Fellowship Week: Using Culturally-Appropriate Theory to Address the Needs of Vulnerable Populations by Nicole Henley

Hello!  My name is Nicole Henley, an Assistant Professor and Health Care Management Program Coordinator in the Department of Health Science and Human Ecology at California State University, San Bernardino (CSUSB).  My research interests are access to health care for vulnerable populations and social determinants of health.  The main courses I teach are: Health Services Administration, Statistics, and Social Determinants of Health.  As a 2016-17 MSI Fellow, our cohort examined the Intersection Between Social Determinants of Health (SDOH) and Culturally Responsive Evaluation (CRE).

My contribution to the group project focused on the Health and Health Care domain of the SDOH framework, and the importance of incorporating CRE in the theoretical framework of health-related programs addressing the complex needs of vulnerable populations. 

Lessons Learned: Vulnerable populations have different needs than the general population; Therefore, it’s important to examine the roles of structural and environmental factors, and their affect and effect on this group’s overall health and health outcomes.  Their health and health care challenges intersect with social determinants of health and when “culture” is embedded in the theory, design, and practice of evaluation, systematic errors, cultural biases, and stereotypes are reduced (AEA, 2011), and as a result, the program produces valid and reliable results, and improved population health outcomes and quality of life for this population.

Rad Resource:

If you’re interested in learning more about culturally-appropriate theory that takes into account the complex needs of vulnerable populations, read the article, “Behavioral Model for Vulnerable Populations: Application to Medical Care Use and Outcomes for Homeless People” (Gelberg, L. et al, 2000).

Rad Resource:

Time for Change Foundation (TFCF) is a non-profit organization in San Bernardino, CA that has integrated the “culture” of the vulnerable population they serve in the theory and design of their Homes for Hope Program, which is a permanent supportive housing program that assist homeless families in becoming self-sufficient by placing them directly into their own apartment and providing intensive case management and support services.  TFCF currently has 13 scattered-site locations throughout San Bernardino, CA. TFCF is one of many community-based organizations making a difference in the lives of vulnerable populations.  To learn more about TFCF’s success stories, please visit their website:

The American Evaluation Association is AEA Minority Serving Institution (MSI) Fellowship Experience week. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from AEA’s MSI Fellows. For more information on the MSI fellowship, see this webpage: 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 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

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