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Moving into action Print E-mail
Module 1: Conduct a Socio-Ecological Assesment

Involving a broad group of stakeholders is an essential part of any multiple intervention program. Consulting, learning with and drawing support from a broad coalition of partners and stakeholders is part of developing an informed, effective intervention design and implementation plan.

Identify who needs to be involved

As you identify the system levels you need to target, you can start identifying partners to work with in your intervention program. Look for links to a variety of sectors, systems and levels to help you address the underlying determinants of the health issue you’re working on. Working with others is important at all stages of an intervention and you may find it helpful to set up a working committee or reference group to do that.

Who might work with you? Consider your target groups

Representatives from the groups your intervention is aimed at can be very helpful as you do your socio-iStock_000008542224XSmallecological assessment since they have access to information and hard data that will help you build a comprehensive understanding of the issue.

Consider others involved in the issue

Beyond those affected, there are many people who may play a role or have in interest in your issue. They might be concerned individuals, organizations or policy makers. Getting them onto a committee or reference group will ground your work and build their understanding of your efforts. You may find opportunities for partnerships and alliances that will strengthen your intervention.

Clarify assumptions

Remember, as you begin to work with others on the issue, that they may use different theoretical assumptions about human behaviour, models of health and social change. Define your terms and concepts explicitly and share them with all the sectors and disciplines involved in your socio-ecological assessment.

Identify resources

When you have a general description of the issue, the levels and scope of the interventions you’re considering and the people and individuals with a stake in the situation, scan the sources of expertise available (Refer to Box V - What expertise is available?)

Review baseline data

Whether you’re planning a new intervention or joining existing activities into an intervention program, you need to start gathering baseline data as soon as possible. Measuring the conditions before you launch your intervention lays the groundwork for assessing whether the intervention works. Pay special attention to the determinants of health you identified in your socio-ecological assessment as you decide your baseline measures. Refer to: Box H - Determinants of Health

Document what you’ve found

Documenting the steps of your assessment, including sources and individuals consulted and the information you got from them, will help you in the next planning phase, selecting interventions. To prepare for the next phase, get together with your team to share and integrate all the information gathered through your socio-ecological assessment. Refer to: Example 6 - Reflecting on information gathered and Example 7 - What we did and should have done in a socio-ecological assessment.

Here are some key questions to help you integrate and reflect on what you’ve learned. Make full use of your working group as you answer the following questions — they’ll have many diverse perspectives and sources of information:

  • What do we know for sure?
  • What evidence do we have about:
    • health status?
    • health inequities?
    • determinants of health?
    • biological pathways?
  • What sectors and systems levels are involved and how do they see the issue?
  • What are our working hypotheses about how the various interventions we’re considering will interact with the socio-ecological features of the problem?
  • What are the pathways we think the combined interventions will take to address the nested determinants?

You may find it useful to use a tool to organize your information. (Refer to: Example 8 - Assembling the research evidence: Falls prevention project). Tools are also available to help guide the decision process (Refer to "Box Q – Decision Tree" ).

Last Updated on Monday, 04 May 2009 06:53