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Community organizing and community health: Piloting an innovative approach to community engagement applied to an early intervention project in south London

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Matthew Bolton, Imogen Moore, Ana Ferreira, Crispin Day, Derek Bolton

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)115-121
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of public health
Issue number1
Early online date26 Feb 2015
E-pub ahead of print26 Feb 2015
Published1 Mar 2016


King's Authors


BACKGROUND: The importance of community engagement in health is widely recognized, and key themes in UK National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) recommendations for enhancing community engagement are co-production and community control. This study reports an innovative approach to community engagement using the community-organizing methodology, applied in an intervention of social support to increase social capital, reduce stress and improve well-being in mothers who were pregnant and/or with infants aged 0-2 years.

METHODS: Professional community organizers in Citizens-UK worked with local member civic institutions in south London to facilitate social support to a group of 15 new mothers. Acceptability of the programme, adherence to principles of co-production and community control, and changes in the outcomes of interest were assessed quantitatively in a quasi-experimental design.

RESULTS: The programme was found to be feasible and acceptable to participating mothers, and perceived by them to involve co-production and community control. There were no detected changes in subjective well-being, but there were important reductions in distress on a standard self-report measure (GHQ-12). There were increases in social capital of a circumscribed kind associated with the project.

CONCLUSIONS: Community organizing provides a promising model and method of facilitating community engagement in health.

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