Project goals

This site can help you to plan and evaluate community health improvement initiatives, especially cross-sector initiatives. Here, you will find resources to help clarify project goals, metrics to inform decision-making and evaluation, and links to research evidence to support program theory.

Developing a shared vision and goals is important to collaboration in improving the health of communities.

Shared outcomes and reliable, valid measures of those outcomes:

  • Promote a common vocabulary among community development and health practitioners. Sometimes, similar initiatives use different terms to describe their operations and their goals. Consistency will help improve our ability to learn from one another and share results.
  • Promote the use of standard measures in the field of community health improvement. Use of similar, valid, and reliable measures will nurture learning across initiatives and help to build an evidence base. Standard measures can more readily be compared across initiatives.
  • Help assess impact. Currently, many initiatives define success in terms of the number of people served or the number of activities offered. They less often define success in terms of the effect of their work on the knowledge, behavior, and health status of residents or the effects on community conditions.

What this site offers

Logic models to guide planning. Logic models walk you through the steps needed to effect change, as well as the elements to measure along the way in order to gauge progress. Consult these models when you map a strategy for change.

Logic models help to depict:

  • How an initiative produces change in community health
  • Which outcomes you can reasonably expect to achieve
  • The outcomes to consider measuring
  • The outcomes that similar initiatives typically measure

A search tool to bring you to reliable measures for many of the most common outcomes sought in cross-sector initiatives to improve community health. Use this search tool to determine:

  • Feasible outcome measures
  • Readily available data versus data that will take effort to extract or gather on your own
  • The scale of available data (national, state, county, or neighborhood scale)
  • Where to access available data
  • Methods for gathering your own data; which surveys or other data collection methods similar initiatives have used (Unfortunately, data are often not gathered for neighborhoods and smaller levels of geography. You will often need to gather your own data.)

Links to the evidence base appear for many of the activities included in the logic models and common in initiatives to improve community health. The site indicates the strength of the evidence cited. Use this information to:

  • Make an initial assessment of what evidence supports the implementation of an activity.
  • Begin a literature search for additional evidence or for case studies of the implementation of an activity.