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Health Educ Res. 2012 Aug;27(4):717-28. doi: 10.1093/her/cyr088. Epub 2011 Oct 19.

Perceptions of evidence-based programs among community-based organizations tackling health disparities: a qualitative study.

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Center for Community-Based Research, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, MA 02115, USA.


Dissemination of prevention-focused evidence-based programs (EBPs) from research to community settings may improve population health and reduce health disparities, but such flow has been limited. Academic-community partnerships using community-based participatory research (CBPR) principles may support increased dissemination of EBPs to community-based organizations (CBOs). This qualitative study examined the EBP-related perceptions and needs of CBOs targeting underserved populations. As part of PLANET MassCONECT, a CBPR study, we conducted six key informant interviews with community leaders and four focus groups with CBO staff members in Boston, Worcester and Lawrence, Massachusetts, in 2008. Working definitions of EBPs among CBO staff members varied greatly from typical definitions used by researchers or funders. Key barriers to using EBPs included: resource constraints, program adaptation challenges and conflicts with organizational culture. Important facilitators of EBP usage included: program supports for implementation and adaptation, collaborative technical assistance and perceived benefits of using established programs. This exploratory study highlights differences among key stakeholders regarding the role of evidence in program planning and delivery. An updated perspective should better incorporate CBO perspectives on evidence and place greater, and much needed, emphasis on the impact of context for EBP dissemination in community settings.

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