Michea Caye (2011)
The overarching research topic for this study is the issue of effectively engaging and informing community and government decision makers about health issues that can negatively impact a community’s resilience. The question guiding this study is how can formative research engage and inform community and government decision makers about the under addressed issue of youth problem gambling (YPG) in Windham County, Vermont? The study has two aims: 1) to develop a formative research conceptual framework and evaluate its effectiveness in addressing the public health issue of youth problem gambling, and 2) to use the formative research methodology to develop a better understanding of Windham County community dynamics relative to the public health issue of youth problem gambling.
As defined in this study, formative research is the first stage of a health intervention initiative through which the dimensions, dynamics, stakeholders and general community awareness and understanding about a health challenge are established (Gittelsohn, J. Steckler, A. and Johnson, C. 2006; Valente, 2002). Research methods included interviews based upon snowball sampling, focus groups, journaling, relevant document review and informal conversations. Interview analysis was based upon Computer Aided Thematic Analysis (CATA) and developed within the framework provided by Greenhalgh et al’s (2005) five-step qualitative research protocol. The study’s conclusions, as well as informing next steps for approaching the under addressed issue of youth problem gambling in Windham County, Vermont, establish the broad applicability of formative research as a methodological approach for addressing all public health concerns whether the health risk is socio-economic, political, environmental and/or spiritual in origin.