Approaches And Methodologies
The evaluation of Bronx Health REACH uses two complementary approaches: Community-Based Participatory Research and Mixed Methods Research.
Community-Based Participatory Research (CBPR) is a partnership approach to conducting research that sees community members as key partners. Among the key features of CBPR are:
1. Community as unit of identity
2. Identification of, and building upon, community skills, resources, and assets
3. Co-learning and reciprocal transfer of expertise among partners
4. Shared decision-making power
5. Balance between research and action
6. Focus on systems (e.g. partnership) development
7. Shared ownership of the processes and products of the research
Consistent with CBPR principles, all components are reviewed by members of the Bronx Health REACH coalition and changes are made according to their recommendations. The Coalition assists the evaluation staff to prioritize evaluation questions and to develop and refine indicators, standards, and tools for responding to the questions. The evaluators regularly report findings to the coalition, project staff, and other stakeholders, so that findings can be used to support and refine program structure and activities. Our evaluators also solicit the advice of the coalition, program staff, and stakeholders in the interpretation of evaluation findings, in order to maximize exposure to diverse perspectives and expertise, and to encourage consistent buy-in.
Mixed Methods Research combines many different evaluation methods to assess whether a program is working or not. For example, to assess the effectiveness of a particular program, we may use three or more evaluation methods. This may include pre- and post- surveys to assess knowledge and behavior change, interviews with participants to understand personal motivation for behavior change, and checking of attendance records to see if people who came to the program most often learned the most. This allows us to see where we had the biggest impact and where we need to make changes.
Common research methods used in our evaluation process include:
• Focus groups are group discussions that give people an opportunity to share their opinions and experiences with one another. Bronx Health REACH uses focus groups to gather opinions about different project activities and to better understand people’s knowledge and attitudes about a particular issue.
• Interviews are used to gather more personal and/or detailed information from program participants. We ask participants to speak in depth about their experience with program activities, if the activities led to an increase in knowledge or behavior change, and if they have any suggestions for program improvement.
• Surveys are conducted in a few different ways. For a big activity, we often administer a very brief survey to find out about the people who attended and what they learned from the activity. For multi-session programs, we conduct surveys at the beginning and at the end of the program to assess changes in knowledge, attitudes, or behavior. As part of the Faith-Based Outreach Initiative, we conduct annual “pew surveys” to provide information about church characteristics and knowledge and attitudes regarding healthy eating and health disparities.
• Observation is a crucial part of the evaluation process. A member of the evaluation team attends all key program activities in order to judge program quality and impact, to understand the program context and the participants, and to see how and why decisions are made.
• Review of program documents involves collecting meeting minutes, attendance lists, tracking forms, and program reports. The documents are used to evaluate program implementation and outcomes.
To learn more about Bronx Health REACH’s research on health disparities, health policy, and community-based approaches, please read our peer-reviewed journal articles