The federal government has increasingly used community coalitions as a programmatic approach to address emerging community health issues. Community coalitions are composed of diverse organizations that form an alliance in order to pursue a common goal. The activities of community coalitions include advocacy, outreach, education, prevention, service delivery, capacity building, empowerment, community action, and systems change. The presumption is that successful community coalitions will be able to identify new resources to continue their activities and to sustain their impact in the community over time. Given the large investment in community coalitions, researchers are beginning to systematically explore the factors that affect the sustainability of community coalitions once their initial funding ends.
The purpose of this literature review is to summarize and synthesize the existing literature in order to identify how researchers, policymakers, and practitioners have defined and measured sustainability for community coalitions. This report is part of a larger study that is funded by the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE) at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). As a component of the ASPE study, this literature review explores the constructs of community coalitions, their impacts, and sustainability.
This literature review also includes a conceptual framework that can be used to assess the sustainability of community coalitions. The conceptual framework will guide the ASPE study, which uses the experiences of the community coalitions funded by the Community Access Program (CAP)/Healthy Communities Access Program (HCAP) to explore sustainability once initial federal funding has ended.