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Putting context centre stage: evidence from a systems evaluation of an area based empowerment initiative in England

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Putting context centre stage : evidence from a systems evaluation of an area based empowerment initiative in England . / Orton, Lois; Halliday, Emma Catherine; Collins, Jane Michelle; Egan, Matt; Lewis, Sue; Ponsford, Ruth; Powell, Katie; Salway, Sarah; Townsend, Anne; Whitehead, Margaret; Popay, Jennifer Mary.

In: Critical Public Health, Vol. 27, No. 4, 2017, p. 477-489.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

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Orton, L, Halliday, EC, Collins, JM, Egan, M, Lewis, S, Ponsford, R, Powell, K, Salway, S, Townsend, A, Whitehead, M & Popay, JM 2017, 'Putting context centre stage: evidence from a systems evaluation of an area based empowerment initiative in England ' Critical Public Health, vol. 27, no. 4, pp. 477-489. https://doi.org/10.1080/09581596.2016.1250868

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Orton, Lois ; Halliday, Emma Catherine ; Collins, Jane Michelle ; Egan, Matt ; Lewis, Sue ; Ponsford, Ruth ; Powell, Katie ; Salway, Sarah ; Townsend, Anne ; Whitehead, Margaret ; Popay, Jennifer Mary. / Putting context centre stage : evidence from a systems evaluation of an area based empowerment initiative in England . In: Critical Public Health. 2017 ; Vol. 27, No. 4. pp. 477-489.

Bibtex

@article{dc33ad957db2444585eae011c4ed712a,
title = "Putting context centre stage: evidence from a systems evaluation of an area based empowerment initiative in England",
abstract = "It is now widely accepted that context matters in evaluations of the health inequalities impact of community-based social initiatives. Systems thinking offers a lens for uncovering the dynamic relationship between such initiatives and their social contexts. However, there are very few examples that show how a systems approach can be applied in practice and what kinds of evidence are produced when this happens. In this paper, we use data from ethnographic fieldwork embedded within a multi-site mixed method evaluation to demonstrate how a systems approach can be applied in practice to evaluate the early stages of an area-based empowerment initiative – Big Local (funded by the Big Lottery Fund and delivered by Local Trust). Taking place in 150 different local areas in England and underpinned by an ethos of resident-led collective action, Big Local offers an illustration of the applicability of a systems approach to better understand the change processes that emerge as social initiatives embed and co-evolve within a series of local contexts. Findings reveal which parts of the social system are likely to be changed, by what mechanisms, and with what implications. They also raise some salient considerations for knowledge generation and methods development in public health evaluation, particularly for the evaluation of social initiatives where change does not necessarily happen in linear or predictable ways. We suggest future evaluations of such initiatives require the use of more flexible designs, encompassing qualitative approaches capable of capturing the complexity of relational systems processes, alongside more traditional quantitative methods.",
keywords = "Health inequalities, area-based initiatives, social context, systems theory, evaluation",
author = "Lois Orton and Halliday, {Emma Catherine} and Collins, {Jane Michelle} and Matt Egan and Sue Lewis and Ruth Ponsford and Katie Powell and Sarah Salway and Anne Townsend and Margaret Whitehead and Popay, {Jennifer Mary}",
year = "2017",
doi = "10.1080/09581596.2016.1250868",
language = "English",
volume = "27",
pages = "477--489",
journal = "Critical Public Health",
issn = "0958-1596",
publisher = "Routledge",
number = "4",

}

RIS

TY - JOUR

T1 - Putting context centre stage

T2 - evidence from a systems evaluation of an area based empowerment initiative in England

AU - Orton, Lois

AU - Halliday, Emma Catherine

AU - Collins, Jane Michelle

AU - Egan, Matt

AU - Lewis, Sue

AU - Ponsford, Ruth

AU - Powell, Katie

AU - Salway, Sarah

AU - Townsend, Anne

AU - Whitehead, Margaret

AU - Popay, Jennifer Mary

PY - 2017

Y1 - 2017

N2 - It is now widely accepted that context matters in evaluations of the health inequalities impact of community-based social initiatives. Systems thinking offers a lens for uncovering the dynamic relationship between such initiatives and their social contexts. However, there are very few examples that show how a systems approach can be applied in practice and what kinds of evidence are produced when this happens. In this paper, we use data from ethnographic fieldwork embedded within a multi-site mixed method evaluation to demonstrate how a systems approach can be applied in practice to evaluate the early stages of an area-based empowerment initiative – Big Local (funded by the Big Lottery Fund and delivered by Local Trust). Taking place in 150 different local areas in England and underpinned by an ethos of resident-led collective action, Big Local offers an illustration of the applicability of a systems approach to better understand the change processes that emerge as social initiatives embed and co-evolve within a series of local contexts. Findings reveal which parts of the social system are likely to be changed, by what mechanisms, and with what implications. They also raise some salient considerations for knowledge generation and methods development in public health evaluation, particularly for the evaluation of social initiatives where change does not necessarily happen in linear or predictable ways. We suggest future evaluations of such initiatives require the use of more flexible designs, encompassing qualitative approaches capable of capturing the complexity of relational systems processes, alongside more traditional quantitative methods.

AB - It is now widely accepted that context matters in evaluations of the health inequalities impact of community-based social initiatives. Systems thinking offers a lens for uncovering the dynamic relationship between such initiatives and their social contexts. However, there are very few examples that show how a systems approach can be applied in practice and what kinds of evidence are produced when this happens. In this paper, we use data from ethnographic fieldwork embedded within a multi-site mixed method evaluation to demonstrate how a systems approach can be applied in practice to evaluate the early stages of an area-based empowerment initiative – Big Local (funded by the Big Lottery Fund and delivered by Local Trust). Taking place in 150 different local areas in England and underpinned by an ethos of resident-led collective action, Big Local offers an illustration of the applicability of a systems approach to better understand the change processes that emerge as social initiatives embed and co-evolve within a series of local contexts. Findings reveal which parts of the social system are likely to be changed, by what mechanisms, and with what implications. They also raise some salient considerations for knowledge generation and methods development in public health evaluation, particularly for the evaluation of social initiatives where change does not necessarily happen in linear or predictable ways. We suggest future evaluations of such initiatives require the use of more flexible designs, encompassing qualitative approaches capable of capturing the complexity of relational systems processes, alongside more traditional quantitative methods.

KW - Health inequalities

KW - area-based initiatives

KW - social context

KW - systems theory

KW - evaluation

U2 - 10.1080/09581596.2016.1250868

DO - 10.1080/09581596.2016.1250868

M3 - Journal article

VL - 27

SP - 477

EP - 489

JO - Critical Public Health

JF - Critical Public Health

SN - 0958-1596

IS - 4

ER -