From Roots to Results: A Qualitative Case Study of the Evolution of a Public Health Leadership Institute Building Capacity in Collaborating for Equity and Justice.Health Educ Behav. 2019 10; 46(1_suppl):33S-43S.HE
Policy, systems, and environmental change are now widely accepted as critical to sustaining improvements in community health. Evidence suggests that such systems-level change is most effective when driven by community-based partnerships. Yet, after more than three decades of building community-based partnership work, health inequities have continued to deepen. To address health inequities, current and historical distributions of power are increasingly recognized as important considerations in efforts to ensure all individuals have the opportunity to attain their full health potential (i.e., achieving health equity). Building on social determinants of health literature, social injustice and powerlessness are put forth as fundamental causes of health inequities. Focusing on power as a root cause of health and health equity through application of Wolff and colleagues' six principles requires substantial changes in contemporary public health practice. This case study uses document analysis of a single case, the Community Teams Program, to assess the evolution of a statewide public health leadership program's efforts to build the capacity of coalition-based teams to catalyze community change in line with Wolff and colleagues' principles. Deductive, selective coding of the materials surface four themes in the program adaptations: (1) the need to focus on power as a root cause, (2) shifting power through relationship building, (3) storytelling as a way to shift narrative, and (4) building mechanisms into the curriculum that hold coalitions accountable for applying and sustaining learned skills. The themes demonstrate philosophical, pedagogical, and organizational changes to center power building approaches in health promotion. Findings are triangulated by reflections from the program director and recorded reflections of participants captured in existing evaluation data.