Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Public Health

Tracking the Use and Impact of a Community Social Report: Where Does the Information Go?

Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Public Health

Tracking the Use and Impact of a Community Social Report: Where Does the Information Go?

Article excerpt


The purpose of this paper is to report on a study evaluating the extent to which a social report (entitled "Hamilton- Wentworth Profile on Children and Youth") was read and used by recipients. Subjects were divided into two groups: an Active Group which had worked on producing the Profile and/or requested copies of it once it had been released, and a Passive Group which had received copies of the Profile through a general mailing list used for other research reports. Approximately one year later, 90% of the Active Group recalled the Profile compared to 21% of the Passive Group. Similarly, 83% of Active Group respondents had read the Profile compared to 8% of Passive Group subjects. 80% of Active Group respondents and 7% of Passive Group respondents used the Profile. The results suggest that if social reports are read by local community agencies and individuals, they will be used to help improve conditions for children and youth. Social reports at the local level are more likely to be read if potential users are engaged in the process of report production and if the reports are disseminated to the appropriate target audience.


Le present article fait le point stir tine etude ayant pour but d'evaluer duns queue mesure tin rapport social (intitule `Hamilton-Wentworth Profile on Children and Youth') a ete Iu et utilise par les personnes fayant renu. Les sujets etaient divise en deux grouper : ttn groupe actif, dont les membres ont participe I la production du rapport ou en ont demande ttn exemplaire des la partition ; et tin groupe passif dons les membres ont renu le Profile parce que lour nom figurait stir tine lisle d'envoi qui Bert a la diffusion generale d'autres rapports de recherches. Environ tin an plus tard, 90 % des membres du groupe actif se rappelaient du Profile, par rapport a 21 % des membres du groupe passif. De meme, 83 fo des repondants du groupe actif avaient fu Ie Profile, comparativement a 8 % des membres du groupe passi Enfin, 80 % des repondants du groupe actif se sont servis du Profile, par rapport a 7 %oo des repondants du groupe passif. Les resultats indiquent que si les agences communautaires locales et les individus lisent les rapports sociaux, ils ont tendance a s'en servir pour ameliorer les conditions des enfants et adolescents. Les rapports sociaux au niveau local sont plus susceptibles d'etre lus si les utilisatetirs eventuels sont impliques daps le processes de production des rapports et si les rapports sont diffuses au groupe cible approprie.

Social reports (health status reports, report cards, community profiles, etc.) are documents that provide information on what is known about the general social conditions of a particular population, community, or society. Social reports can either focus on a particular issue or several issues for different population levels (international, national, provincial, and municipal). Current, ongoing Canadian social reporting efforts include the Canadian Council on Social Development's annual social report on children, entitled The Progress of Canada's Children,1 and the Ontario Social Development Council's report on the well-being of the province, called the Quality of Life Index.2

Despite the large investments in such social reporting efforts, however, little is known about whether these reports are, in fact, read and used (e.g., to help shape public policy, establish local funding priorities), and whether they in fact do any good. A literature search was conducted on nine databases (e.g., Dissertation Abstracts, Medline, CINHAL, Health Star, Humanities Index, Social Sciences Index) using a combination of key search terms: "social report(s)," "indicator(s)," "profile," "community health status," "information," "report card," "evaluation," "use," "utilization," "impact," "track(ing)," "monitor(ing)," "effectiveness". As well, three relevant periodicals were hand-searched (i.e., Social Indicators Research; Knowledge: Creation, Diffusion, Utilization; and The Joint Commission Journal on Quality Improvement). …

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