Building Bridges, Defining Metrics

The Institute for Integrative Health convened a forum at its headquarters February 3-4, 2016, to envision a new, integrative approach to creating and evaluating community-based programs that improve the health of urban and disadvantaged youth. 

The forum's opening video

The many influences on youth health and wellness are dynamically linked


Research by George Kaplan, PhD, one of the Institute’s esteemed Scholars, and others has led to a deeper understanding of the complex, interconnected influences on health equity and wellness.

School- and community-based programs designed to improve youth health can also impact young people in many ways, with outcomes that connect to or spill over into multiple community and population health interests. This reflects the dynamic link between health influences where an intervention targeting one element may also affect several others. For example, interventions focused on physical or mental health may also help develop resilience and habits that improve functioning for leading productive and healthy lives.

A new, integrative approach is needed

The successful design, implementation and evaluation of community-based programs to improve youth health must take into consideration the complex dynamics of targeting behavioral change in an individual within the context of their community. To achieve this, a new approach must:

  • Build bridges across a variety of sectors to strengthen program design and evaluation;
  • Address the challenges of outcome measurement in real-world, community settings; and
  • Balance diverse stakeholder priorities and expectations.

Leaders gathered to envision a future of health for youth

Forty professionals from across the country, including researchers, funders, educators, government leaders, and community program experts, gathered at the Institute’s headquarters in Baltimore for the Building Bridges, Defining Metric forum. During two days of interactive sessions, they openly exchanged ideas and views and developed recommendations for creating robust community-based programs to improve youth health that integrate diverse stakeholder priorities and use appropriate metrics for evaluating outcomes in real-world settings.

Report published

The Institute for Integrative Health produced a report capturing the ideas and strategies shared at the Building Bridges, Defining Metrics forum. 

Download the report