19/04 Community focused approaches that mobilise people as assets

Research Question(s)

  1. What are the effective* community focused approaches to maximising the potential of people as assets to improve health, wellbeing and health inequalities?
  2. What are the mechanisms underlying community focused approaches that enable implementation and ensure scalability and sustainability?

Local government and voluntary groups have a vital role in building confident and connected communities, where all groups, but especially those at highest health risk, can tap into social support and social networks, have a voice in shaping services and are able to play an active part in community life. One approach to this is to focus on the assets already available within a community. Assets may include community associations, local services, informal groups and networks, and the skills, knowledge and commitment of people within a community.

The Public Health Research Programme is interested in primary research on community focused approaches to maximising the potential of people, or groups of people, from within a community as assets to improve health, wellbeing and health inequalities. There is no strong evidence in this area on which approaches are most effective and in what context. The primary outcome must be health related; other outcomes may include: community and individual wellbeing, measures of community engagement, co-creation and co-development, social cohesion, social capital, empowerment, voice, collective measures, collaboration and capacity, failure to engage or others justified by the researchers.

  • Community focused approaches that mobilise people in different ways to collectively deliver changes in health, wellbeing and health inequalities. Assets may include:
  • Volunteer and peer roles – where approaches focus on enhancing individuals’ or groups’ capabilities to provide advice, information and support or organise activities that will enhance health and wellbeing in their or other communities, encouraging inclusivity. For example peer support, volunteer schemes, health champions.
  • Strengthening communities – where approaches involve building on community capacities to take action together on health and the social determinants of health.
  • Collaborations and partnerships – impact of local services working with people.
  • Access to community resources – where approaches may connect people to resources to meet health needs and increase social participation. Relevant populations or sub-groups may be studied, based on factors such as ethnicity, socioeconomic status, disability, or gender or other markers. Researchers are to specify and justify their choice of intervention and the relevance to the population being studied. Researchers should demonstrate the relevance of their proposed research to policy makers and other evidence-users. Researchers are encouraged to consider wider economic impacts across whole systems.

Studies should generate evidence to inform the implementation of single or multicomponent interventions. Studies may include evidence syntheses, studies evaluating interventions, including trials, quasi- and natural experimental evaluations, and feasibility and pilot studies for these. We welcome applications for linked studies (e.g. pilot + main evaluation). Secondary analyses of existing epidemiological data and/or impact modelling studies may also be funded. We encourage the adoption of a systems perspective where appropriate to the study context. In all cases a strong justification for the chosen design and methods must be made.

The primary outcome measure of the research, if not necessarily the intervention itself, must be health-related. The positive or negative impacts of the intervention, including inequitable outcomes should be considered. Researchers are asked to indicate how long-term impacts will be assessed. All applications should identify underlying theory and include a logic model (or equivalent) to help explain underlying context, theory and mechanisms. Proposals should ensure adequate public involvement in the research.

The impacts of public health interventions are often complex and wide-reaching. Studies should acknowledge this by adopting a broad perspective, taking account of costs and benefits to all relevant sectors of society. An appropriate health economic analysis to inform cost effectiveness, affordability or return on investment should be included where appropriate. Sustainability – health, economic and environmental – are also of interest.

For all proposals, applicants should clearly state the public health utility of the outcomes and the mechanisms by which they will inform future public health policy and practice. Details about the potential pathway to impact and scalability of interventions, if shown to have an effect, should be provided, including an indication of which organisation(s) might fund the relevant intervention(s) if widely implemented.

In order to apply you will need to carefully review the:

The deadline for applications is 1pm, 30 July 2019.

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