Background Ten years on from Morgan and Ziglio’s call to revitalise the evidence base for public health through an asset model, there are still gaps in understanding about how best to evaluate asset-based approaches. The demand for better evidence poses some challenges as asset-based working emerges from radically different traditions from the mainstream deficit model in public health. This paper will present findings from a rapid evidence review on the measurement of asset-based approaches.
Aims The rapid review aimed to improve understanding of categories of measurement in the evaluation of asset-based approaches for health and wellbeing and to identify indicators and frameworks that can used in practice. The review was part of a project to develop an asset-based theory of change in health, care and wellbeing, funded by the Health Foundation.
Methods Rapid Evidence Assessment techniques were used to produce a map of evaluation approaches and measures. The search strategy used strings of common terms (eg Salutogensis, Asset Based Community Development) combined with synonyms of measurement/evaluation. Academic databases were searched from 2005 along with relevant websites. Additionally, the results of a previous search were screened and reference lists mined. Publications were included if they explicitly discussed the asset model and measurement. Data were then extracted across various fields including population, conceptual framework, measurement type and application. Findings were summarised in tables, with some additional thematic analysis.
Results 8689 publications were identified and 91 full text articles assessed for eligibility. In total, 33 publications were included in the review. Many of these flagged up the challenges of evaluation and the need for better outcome measurement. Reported research strategies varied considerably from the practical to the theoretical. Also the purpose, level and specificity of measurement ranged from validated indicators through to broad domain frameworks. Seven clusters were identified: Asset Based Community Development; Asset Mapping; Community-based evaluation; Conceptual frameworks for measurement; Resilience; Salutogensis; Other. One key theme was the importance of communities being involved in the assessment of assets.
Conclusion The review provides an overview of research strategies and measures with application and purpose described. Producing a map of how asset-based approaches are evaluated and articulating key methodological differences helps researchers and practitioners select appropriate evaluation methods. There are a number of limitations, including the use of rapid review methods which may have missed other relevant evaluation approaches. Further methodological development is needed in this field and we welcome debate about ways to evaluate asset-based approaches.
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