Recommendations for research

The guideline committee has made the following recommendations for research. In line with the principles of best practice (see the section on overarching principles of good practice), research should be undertaken in collaboration with local communities.

1 Effectiveness and cost effectiveness

Are particular components of community engagement approaches more effective and cost effective at improving health and wellbeing and reducing health inequalities than other components?

Why this is important

There is some evidence that community engagement improves health and wellbeing and reduces health inequalities. But studies are needed that consider both effectiveness and cost effectiveness of specific components of community engagement approaches, include a suitable comparator, and use combined impact and process evaluations. Evidence on a range of outcomes is needed, including:

  • effectiveness in relation to setting local priorities

  • outcomes identified by communities themselves

  • health outcomes

  • wider social outcomes, such as increased social capital, capacity and empowerment.

2 Evaluation frameworks and logic models

Which evaluation frameworks and logic models can be used to evaluate the impact of community engagement on health and wellbeing?

Why this is important

Various frameworks and logic models are often cited in published interventions but they usually lack detail and their usefulness is unclear. Studies are needed to determine the key components of an 'evaluative framework' that could be used for community engagement.

Establishing a shared framework for evaluation would also aid comparison and consistency within and between approaches.

3 Collaborations and partnerships

What are the components of collaborations and partnerships between people, local communities (including community representatives, such as peers) and organisations that lead to improved health and wellbeing?

Why this is important

Effective collaborations and partnerships are fundamental for community engagement, the associated improvements in health and wellbeing and to reduce health inequalities.

Studies are needed to determine the key components of an effective partnership or collaboration and what makes for a successful partnership or collaboration between different groups. Evidence is also needed on how these components affect the wider determinants of health (such as social support and empowerment).

4 Social media

How effective are online social media and networks at improving health and wellbeing and reducing health inequalities when they are used:

  • as a method of community engagement?

  • to support an existing community engagement approach?

Why this is important

Social media is a potentially useful way to engage communities. But there is a lack of evidence on how effective it is at reaching different audiences and delivering initiatives. In particular, there's a lack of evidence on how its use compares with face‑to‑face approaches. In addition, it is not clear whether or not its use could have an impact on health inequalities.

  • National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE)