Participation and Success among Sydney Community Action Groups

Christopher Rissel, Freidoon Khavarpour, Catherine Butler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Community participation and action are important foundations of public health. The objective of this study was to identify characteristics of resident action groups in metropolitan Sydney which predict achievement of a group's objectives and higher group potency. A stratified random sample of 32 groups registered with local councils surveyed in 1997 were followed up two years later. Measures of community empowerment (assessed by the achievement of a group's objectives and higher group potency) were linked with aggregated baseline group data. Of the 32 groups that provided baseline data, 21 (66%) were still meeting two years after initial contact. Group potency was negatively associated with the mean number of activities with which groups were involved (p = O.04). A higher level of mean perceived benefits (p = O.02), and a higher ratio of benefits to cost (p = O.04) were positively associated with group potency. Success in achieving group objectives was positively associated with higher baseline group potency (p = O.03), higher baseline achievement of success (p<O.01), and higher baseline expectations of success (p = O.04). The lower the proportion of meetings attended, the more likely the group's objectives were to have been achieved (p = O.05). These findings suggest that quality of participation may be more important than amount of participation for community empowerment. A larger study is needed to better identify the inter-relationships of key aspects of participation and community empowerment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)61-64
Number of pages4
JournalAustralian Journal of Primary Health
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2001
Externally publishedYes


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