The Use of Concept Mapping to Identify Community-Driven Intervention Strategies for Physical and Mental Health

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Research that partners with youth and community stakeholders increases contextual relevance and community buy-in and therefore maximizes the chance for intervention success. Concept mapping is a mixed-method participatory research process that accesses the input of the community in a collaborative manner. After a school-wide health needs assessment at a low-income, minority/immigrant K–8 school identified bullying and obesity as the most important health issues, concept mapping was used to identify and prioritize specific strategies to address these two areas. Stakeholders including 160 K–8 students, 33 college students working in the school, 35 parents, 20 academic partners, and 22 teachers/staff brainstormed strategies to reduce and prevent obesity and bullying. A smaller group of stakeholders worked individually to complete an unstructured sorting of these strategies into groups of similar ideas, once for obesity and again for bullying. Multidimensional scaling and cluster analysis was applied to the sorting data to produce a series of maps that illustrated the stakeholders’ conceptual thinking about obesity and bullying prevention strategies. The maps for both obesity and bullying organized specific strategies into themes that included education, parental role, teacher/school supervision, youth role, expert/professional role, and school structure/support.

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