From the perspective of academic medical centers (AMCs), community engagement is a collaborative process of working toward mutually defined goals to improve the community’s health, and involves partnerships between AMCs, individuals, and entities representing the surrounding community. AMCs increasingly recognize the importance of community engagement, and recent programs such as Prevention Research Centers and Clinical and Translational Science Awards have highlighted community engagement activities. However, there is no standard or accepted metric for evaluating AMCs’ performance and impact of community engagement activities.
In this article, the authors present a framework for evaluating AMCs’ community engagement activities. The framework includes broad goals and specific activities within each goal, wherein goals and activities are evaluated using a health services research framework consisting of structure, process, and outcome criteria. To illustrate how to use this community engagement evaluation framework, the authors present specific community engagement goals and activities of the University of Rochester Medical Center to (1) improve the health of the community served by the AMC; (2) increase the AMC’s capacity for community engagement; and (3) increase generalizable knowledge and practices in community engagement and public health.
Using a structure-process-outcomes framework, a multidisciplinary team should regularly evaluate an AMC’s community engagement program with the purpose of measurably improving the performance of the AMC and the health of its surrounding community.