Community Psychology Collaborating with the Cincinnati Health Department

In the first UC Community Psychology class offered in Spring of 2016, Farrah Jacquez and her students worked with Dr. Jenny Mooney, Director of Maternal and Infant Health at the Cincinnati Health Department (CHD), to investigate the effectiveness of a reproductive health toolkit they have developed to educate individuals about birth control, sexually transmitted infections, and reproductive life planning.

The class did this with the assistance of a grant from UC Forward. Although the CHD had been using the toolkit in their medical clinics and outreach projects, budget constraints prevented them from scientifically evaluating the effectiveness of their toolkit in improving reproductive health outcomes. In addition, they had not investigated the optimal strategies to deliver the toolkit (e.g., group format, interactive discussion, etc.).

Students design a research study to assess toolkit effectiveness

Graduate students in psychology, sociology, and health education collaborated with Dr. Mooney and CHD staff to design a research study to find out how well the toolkit works when administered out in the community. They facilitated the toolkit with 60 community members recruited from local organizations and administered pre- and post-test measures to determine how the toolkit changed knowledge and attitudes about reproductive health.

The results 

Students found that after participating in the toolkit presentation, participants showed significant improvements in self-efficacy for birth control use, intention to use reproductive life planning, intention to use birth control, intention to protect against STIs, and intention to communicate about sex. In sum, the toolkit is an effective strategy to present reproductive health information in community settings in group settings.

Students highly satisfied with this experience

By partnering with the Cincinnati Health Department, students were able to conduct a research project that applied the community psychology approach in our own local community. Dr. Mooney and the CHD benefited from the project by gaining valuable empirical evidence for the effectiveness of the toolkit that will allow them to apply for funding to facilitate the toolkit with a broader audience, thereby improving reproductive health throughout Cincinnati. Students expressed high satisfaction with the course, emphasizing the value of not only learning about community psychology but actually doing the work of a community psychologist.

Read one student’s reflections on her experience with this class and the project.

cinciprojectCommunity Psychology Collaborating with the Cincinnati Health Department