Assessing Meaningful Community Engagement: A Conceptual Model to Advance Health Equity through Transformed Systems of Health

Date of Publication: 
February, 2022
Source Organization: 

The importance of meaningful community engagement is increasingly being recognized by a host of key stakeholders and constituency groups. Community engagement is an important strategy for “bringing about environmental and behavioral changes that will improve the health of the community and its members.” This National Academy of Medicine project was designed to:  1) identify concepts and metrics that can best assess the extent, process, and impact of community engagement; and 2) provide community-engaged, effective, and evidence-based tools to those who want to measure engagement to ensure that it is meaningful and impactful, emphasizing equity as a critical input and outcome.  A diverse Organizing Committee consisting of experts in community engagement—community leaders, researchers, and policy advisors – conducted an analysis of the peer-reviewed literature and organizational websites for frameworks and conceptual models of engagement. The authors describe the methodology and participatory process used to develop the new Assessing Community Engagement (ACE) Conceptual Model and propose eight foundational standards for assessing meaningful and effective community engagement:  1) Define what should be measured in meaningful community engagement, not what is currently measured; 2) Be sufficiently flexible to measure engagement in any community; 3) Define health holistically; 4) Allow the community to see itself in or identify with the language, definitions, and context; 5) Embed equity throughout the model; 6) Emphasize outcomes of meaningful community engagement;  7) Present a range of outcome options for various stakeholders; and 8) Communicate the dynamic and transformative nature of engagement. A series of core principles are identified as being essential for community engagement:  trust, bidirectionality, inclusivity, culturally centered, equitable financing, multi-knowledge, shared governance, ongoing relationships, co-created, and coequal participants.

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National Academy of Medicine. (2012, Feb). Assessing Meaningful Community Engagement: A Conceptual Model to Advance Health Equity through Transformed Systems for Health.