Voorstad on the Move (VoM) is a community health promotion program implemented in a socioeconomically deprived city district in the Netherlands. Based on exploration of the health situation, concurrent views on health promotion, and insights from literature, VoM is grounded in a social-ecological perspective and puts three action principles center core: citizens’ participation, intersectoral collaboration, and a health supportive environment.
VoM aims to improve the health of inhabitants, mostly low socioeconomic status (SES) families, and to realize changes in the social and physical environment. This current research, as part of the wider VoM project, aims to study the impacts and action principles of VoM. The main research questions concern the inhabitants’ perceptions on health and health supportive environments, the perceived benefits of citizen participation in terms of health literacy and empowerment, and the factors and mechanisms that contribute to citizen participation and intersectoral collaboration.
The study has a mixed methods design, including process evaluation and monitoring, and combines qualitative and quantitative data. Research activities include literature study, in-depth interviews, focus group discussions, concept and capacity mapping, document analysis, and health survey data. A prominent strategy is action research, which aims to involve all stakeholders, capturing the different perspectives of citizens and professionals, and engaging low SES groups. The principle of triangulation is continuously applied to optimize the reliability of this study, using multiple methods and multiple sources. Internal validity is enhanced by triangulation of methods and resources. Other verification techniques will also be used, such as expert consultation.
The design of the study, with a strong focus on action research, facilitates the involvement of all stakeholders and contributes to the development of capacities, learning, and empowerment, and thus contributes to health. The VoM program is innovative because it adopts an open approach in which activities evolve from citizens’ needs, with a focus on action elements. This study will unravel the mechanisms of the action elements at community level, thereby helping to find ways to reduce health inequities. The findings will further elucidate what works and why it works for low SES groups.