The Community Action and Public Health study explored how Ontario public health practitioners interpret and implement guidance in community action. In-depth interviews were conducted with 107 public health professionals and community members in 6 Ontario health units. This report briefly describes the study methods and presents results pertaining to the measurement of success based on interviews with 67 public health professionals. Data substantiate the view that evaluation methodologies employing quantitative measures of epidemiological outcomes inadequately capture "success" in community action, possibly attributable to an unproductive dichotomization of "process" and "outcome". Results suggest two kinds of "success": a) changes related to stated goals and targets; and b) more iterative and process-oriented changes, including necessary but often undocumented shifts in relationships, structures, social conditions and processes. In order to legitimize and validate results that might otherwise pass unrecognized, we suggest a methodology that records project "milestones" as successes in their own right.
Comment In: Can J Public Health. 2001 Mar-Apr;92(2):87-911338158