VOICE 1 | Creating a Healthier Campus Community

Voice 1 (2006 to 2009)

Creating a Healthier Campus Community

Students and Organizational Leaders as Co-Researchers

The VOICE Study began with a pilot phase 2006 – 2007, followed by a two year phase to investigate the feasibility of using settings-based community development approaches in a campus community. The study was funded by BC Medical Services Foundation and Canadian Nurses Foundation. This first VOICE study explored campus community health interests from the perspective of community members and provided opportunities for students, staff, faculty and administrators to partner in creating health-promoting and sustainable campus change.

The purposes of the study were to increase knowledge about enabling students to voice their health interests and questions, establish partnerships with university leaders, and jointly design and evaluate actions to create health promoting change for individuals and the campus community. To fill a knowledge gap in the field of healthy community/campus development, this study set out to explore contextualized experiences of students and organizational leaders, and to use mixed research methods such as ecological assessments of the campus including environmental and organizational practices and policies relevant to health determinants (e.g., physical, social and economic). Thus, experiences, processes and changes at both individual and community levels were explored. Further, by engaging large numbers of undergraduate students throughout the research process we hoped to increase their interest and skillfulness in research. Overall the study aimed to contribute to the literature on young adult health, student-organizational leader partnerships, and student participation (youth voice) in healthy campus development.

  1. Increase knowledge about student experience and participation (youth voice) in healthy campus development when working with organizational leaders to jointly design and evaluate actions to create health promoting change for individuals and the campus community.
  2. Increase student capacity in health promotion/healthy community development and research.
  3. Assess change (process, outcome/individual and community) relevant to student identified health priorities and actions.

The VOICE framework combines community action research methods, setting-based health promotion strategies and youth-adult partnership theory. Research, education, and action are cyclical activities. The design evolves through negotiation and dialogue between the community and researchers with community members functioning as co-researchers, in an egalitarian research team (see below figure).