Building Community Trust

Metrics to measure the community impacts of policy partnerships

Measuring trust in government, institutions, and each other may seem like an abstract or subjective exercise, but identifying ways to collect information about community trust has broad implications across public health and health outcomes. There are ways to ask residents and partners about their feelings and observations, and there are external measures that can be used as proxies to indicate changes in levels of community trust.

Measure changes in “community trust” by . . .

  • Collecting data and stories that include self-reported feelings and observations about community trust.

    These types of questions or data may lead to challenging conversations. Evaluators should mindfully consider which settings, messengers, and skills will best facilitate such conversations — for example, asking questions directly (e.g., in surveys or focus groups) or via partners (e.g., in a hospital’s community health needs assessment), to assess the following questions:

    How much do you, as a [community member], trust [representatives, government employees, local institutions, neighbors, etc., specific to the policy] to . . .

    • Give you a say in decisions that affect you?
    • Resolve problems that affect your community?
    • Treat you as an equal?
    • Have your best interests at heart?
    • Help keep you safe?
    • Go out of their way to help you?
    • Share your goals and vision for your community?
    • Understand your experiences, goals, and needs?
    • Reserve judgment about differences between your life and theirs?
    • Celebrate differences between your life and theirs?
  • Partnering with data experts to identify external metrics that, all else equal, may be associated with or indicative of changes in community trust, such as . . .
    • Increased rates of community partners’ participation in the policy process
    • More invitations to join or support community partners’ events and activities
    • Increased voter turnout
    • Increased uptake or utilization of preventive and other health care services
    • High rates of adherence to or compliance with policies (compared with, for example, similar policies implemented with fewer opportunities for community participation)
    • Increased rates of consistency between census reporting and tax reporting (This type of assessment could be made in partnership with an academic institution.)

Key Resources on Building Community Trust

Explore the Metrics

This list of sample metrics is one of several in our web tool Policy Process Evaluation for Equity, a collection intended to inspire conversation and new considerations among changemakers who are developing evaluation provisions and plans in policies to promote health equity. Each list highlights the importance of deepening our community partnerships, our use of data, and the way we communicate about our work throughout the policy process.

Explore other metrics for measuring the community impacts of policy partnership below. A downloadable version of this tool is also available for offline use and sharing.

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