Wellness Ambassadors: Creating new paradigms for health promotion

At the request of Fraser Health, IHSTS is supporting a new South Asian wellness program to rapidly develop, test, evaluate and refine their program activities and interventions using a Developmental Evaluation approach.

The Challenge

The Sehat Wellness Ambassadors team at Fraser Health is working to improve the health of the South Asian population by informing and encouraging members of the community to engage in healthy behaviours.

Population health evidence indicates that the South Asian population is at higher risk for chronic diseases – such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes – compared to other Canadians. However, a number of healthy behaviours have been proven to reduce disease risk.

Working in the community through trained volunteers, the program’s goal is to help South Asian residents improve their diet and exercise choices, as well as participate in screening for several serious illnesses.

Working in one of the most complex socio-economic and operational environments in the country creates a wicked design challenge for the Sehat Wellness Ambassadors team: What is the best way to enable the desired behaviour changes?

Our Approach

Fraser Health leadership asked IHSTS to support the Sehat Wellness Ambassadors team with Developmental Evaluation (DE) expertise.

DE is an evaluation approach that helps support and advance innovation within complex environments. In essence, it involves helping the team establish an iterative process to develop, test, evaluate and refine their program activities to maximize effectiveness, efficiency and engagement.

Our consultant is working closely with the Sehat Wellness Ambassadors team as they began to engage with the South Asian community, providing Patient-Centred Design support as well as guidance on how to use DE to advance program development and evaluation.

The goal is to increase the program’s impact by enabling the team to apply innovative tools and methods in both DE and Patient-Centred Design, which combine to maximize benefits and minimize risk and use of resources.

Trying each approach and evaluating it in real time is providing us with rich insight that we can incorporate immediately into our next trial.

– Deljit Bains, Leader, South Asian Health Institute

Dr. Victoria Lee, Chief Medical Officer of Health for Fraser Health, recognizes the value of focusing on the people in the target community and learning quickly about their needs and interests. “We are much more likely to produce effective interventions with this approach,” she said.