A Methodology for Evaluating Organizational Change in Community-Based Chronic Disease Interventions
In 2003, the Monterey County Health Department, serving Salinas, California, was awarded one of 12 grants from the Steps to a HealthierUS Program to implement a 5-year, multiple-intervention community approach to reduce diabetes, asthma, and obesity. National adult and youth surveys to assess long-term outcomes are required by all Steps sites; however, site-specific surveys to assess intermediate outcomes are not required. Salinas is a medically underserved community of primarily Mexican American residents with high obesity rates and other poor health outcomes. The health department's Steps program has partnered with traditional organizations such as schools, senior centers, clinics, and faith-based organizations as well as novel organizations such as employers of agricultural workers and owners of taquerias. The health department and the Stanford Prevention Research Center developed new site-specific, community-focused partner surveys to assess intermediate outcomes to augment the nationally mandated surveys. These site-specific surveys will evaluate changes in organizational practices, policies, or both following the socioecological model, specifically the Spectrum of Prevention. Our site-specific partner surveys helped to 1) identify promising new partners, select initial partners from neighborhoods with the greatest financial need, and identify potentially successful community approaches; and 2) provide data for evaluating intermediate outcomes matched to national long-term outcomes so that policy and organizational level changes could be assessed. These quantitative surveys also provide important context-specific qualitative data, identifying opportunities for strengthening community partnerships. Developing site-specific partner surveys in multisite intervention studies can provide important data to guide local program efforts and assess progress toward intermediate outcomes matched to long-term outcomes from nationally mandated surveys.