Quartiers en santé: preventing obesity through social capital, citizen participation and changes in municipal policy



From 2010 to 2013, the partnership team Quartiers en santé led a participatory research action process to conduct a contextualized interventional study in three neighbourhoods.

Transfer activities were held that engaged the interest of another stakeholder, who sought to partner with the team. At that time, Quartiers en santé became involved in two villages in Nunavik. In 2014, four villages took part in the accreditation process of the Healthy Co-ops of Nunavik project initiated by the research team. The four co-ops then led the team in the joint development of natural and professional innovative peer-led prevention practices such as Hans Kai Preventative Circles (HKPC). Based on an evidence-based model and led by trained peer leaders, HKPCs are offered in three languages and cover a variety of topics as requested by project partners. An analysis of the needs of a number of families in urban areas revealed more pressing concerns than those met by the HKPCs: affordable housing, food security, economic security, and a socio-cultural learning environment. After three years of political intervention and concept development, the Quartiers en santé team obtained twenty-one community housing units for families in need of support.

An analysis of the needs of a number of families in urban areas revealed certain pressing concerns.

Meanwhile, a pan-Québec municipal survey clarified the role and perceptions of elected officials and civil servants regarding actions on living environments and healthy lifestyle habits, and helped to broaden existing partnerships. On a local level, innovative political decision making integrating health and the Municipalités Amie des aînés and Réseau québécois villes et villages en santé approaches has contributed to progress through intersectoral action and the goal of reducing health inequalities. Health promotion, community action and co-construction of approcahes on multiple levels made it possible for the Quartiers en santé study to describe, understand and define citizen participation for health and, by strengthening social capital, to support the power of families and citizen groups to act, both individually and collectively.  

The study invites us to take another look at the Ottawa Charter, develop formal structures that bring together different stakeholders, support spaces where community knowledge and practices can inspire public health practices, and make prevention a top priority. The key elements proposed by Quartiers en santé include decompartmentalizing disciplines; reducing the barriers between different communities; systematizing interrelations between economic, socio-cultural, physical and political environments; and developing a leading edge practice that is inclusive and participative.

Main researcher

Jacques Boucher, Université du Québec en Outaouais

Summary

Research report

Call for proposals

Deposit of the research report: June 2014