Development of a framework for effective community engagement in Ontario, Canada
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OBJECTIVES: This study aims to: (1) conceptualize effective community engagement (CE) within the Local Health Integration Networks (LHIN) of Ontario, Canada, (2) develop an effective CE framework and (3) compare the CE framework to public engagement (PE) frameworks and assess their relevance to the LHIN context. METHODS: We implemented "concept mapping," a participatory, mixed-methods approach, with LHIN staff. The method includes three components: (1) "Brainstorming" where participants generated statements describing effective CE; (2) "Sorting and Rating" where participants grouped statements and rated their relative importance to generate a "cluster map" and (3) "Mapping" where participants reviewed and named the clusters to yield the effective CE framework. RESULTS: Staff generated a list of 64 statements. Participants reviewed the cluster map to generate six categories for the framework: (1) collaboration, (2) accessibility, (3) accountability, (4) education, (5) principles and (6) organizational capacity. CONCLUSIONS: The effective CE framework overlaps with PE frameworks with two caveats. First, applications of PE evaluation frameworks to the LHINs may yield incomplete results given that partnerships with service providers and organizations are integral to CE strategies. Second, "organizational capacity," largely not captured within existing frameworks, must be integrated as a feature given that emerging research identifies its importance to the successful implementation of engagement strategies.
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