Needs and readiness assessments: Tools for promoting community-university engagement with Aboriginal communities

Fay Fletcher, Alicia Hibbert, Fiona Robertson, Jodie Asselin

Abstract


Community-based participatory research (CBPR) is an important means of connecting the perspectives of community members with critical social issues, such as health and wellness. As beneficial as CBPR can be, effective engagement with community members remains a difficult goal to achieve. In this article, we draw on the international literature around needs and readiness assessments to explore their potential for establishing solid foundations for engaged research. We examine the stages and dimensions identified in the literature, and use these as a framework for a needs and readiness assessment project undertaken with a Métis Settlement community in Alberta, Canada. We share how the needs and readiness assessments helped to foster the emergence of community priorities, informing the next steps in research design, program content and evaluation methods, and heightening community-university engagement. It is our hope that our example of engagement, which focuses on the role of needs and readiness assessments in strengthening community-university partnerships, will better inform engagement approaches so that they become relevant, culturally appropriate and community specific.

Keywords: Métis, Aboriginal, community-based participatory research, needs assessment, readiness assessment, community-university partnership

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