Community participation and psychological empowerment: Testing reciprocal causality using a cross-lagged panel design and latent constructs

Brian D. Christens, N. Andrew Peterson, Paul W. Speer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

90 Scopus citations

Abstract

Empowerment theory provides both a value orientation for community-based research and practice, and a conceptual framework for understanding and evaluating interventions. One critical question in empowerment theory involves whether a reciprocal (bidirectional) relationship exists between community participation (CP) and psychological empowerment (PE). This study applied structural equation modeling (SEM) with two waves of survey data from a cross-lagged panel design to test reciprocal and unidirectional causal relations between latent variables representing CP and PE. Participants (n = 474) were randomly selected neighborhood residents and organizational members from the United States. Four models were tested using SEM: (a) a baseline model with autoregressive paths, (b) a model with autoregressive effects and CP predicting future PE, (c) a model with autoregressive effects and PE predicting future CP, and (d) a fully cross-lagged model. Results indicated that CP influenced future PE; however, reciprocal causality was not found to occur between the variables. Implications of the study for empowerment theory and community-based practice are described, and directions for future research discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)339-347
Number of pages9
JournalHealth Education and Behavior
Volume38
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

Keywords

  • community participation
  • psychological empowerment
  • reciprocal causality

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