Literature Review: Developing a Conceptual Framework to Assess the Sustainability of Community Coalitions Post-Federal Funding. Assessing the Impacts of Community Coalitions

01/07/2011

There is a limited body of literature examining the impacts of community coalitions on health outcomes. Among published research, studies have failed to systematically assess the effectiveness of using community coalitions as a means to improve health. Among individual studies that did assess effectiveness, the results were mixed.  Some coalitions were able to demonstrate significant, positive effects on health outcomes, while others were unable to demonstrate any effects on health outcomes. Exploring the impacts of community coalitions generally, and in the health arena specifically, is complicated by the multifactorial nature of the work coalitions undertake (e.g., attempting to address HIV related services, homelessness, and access to primary care simultaneously through different activities), as well as the tendency of coalitions to continually revise activities to respond to community feedback. Traditional program evaluation methods are often ill-suited to capture the dynamic nature of community coalitions.       

The lack of well-established evaluation methodologies that address the unique characteristics of coalitions has led some researchers to focus on process evaluation, though policymakers and funders continue to seek direct evidence of community coalitions' positive impacts on health. There are however, several conceptual models for evaluating community coalitions, based on both traditional and participatory evaluation methods, which offer potential for improving systematic evaluation of community coalitions.  

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