There is a growing evidence base which shows that community development can make an important contribution to reducing health inequalities, but embedding community development as a mainstream approach into local systems is challenging. The literature relevant to the question of how to embed community development approaches is reviewed in this paper.
Using guidance from the Joanna Briggs Institute, a scoping review was carried out to identify relevant literature. Systematic searches were carried out across multiple databases, experts in the field were contacted and references of included studies were screened. Search results were screened against exclusion criteria. The Consolidated Framework for Implementation Research was used as a framework to identify factors hindering or supporting embedding.
The review identified thirty-five documents which described embedded, or attempts to embed, community development approaches in fourteen different countries. The most common community development approaches were strength-based or co-production. Four studies reported primary research on the embedding process or systems change. Several barriers and facilitators to embedding were identified including those related to funding arrangements, organizational and system culture, building trust with communities and the need for training and support for staff.
Using an implementation science framework, this scoping review has assessed the nature of the evidence base on how to embed community development. While the evidence base uncovered is currently limited, barriers and facilitators to embedding identified in the review can be used to both inform future attempts to embed community development and provide the building blocks for future primary research.