What is a conceptual framework?
There are many ways to explain a conceptual framework. It can be any or all
of the following:
Why do we need a framework when doing research?
A framework can help us to explain why we are doing a project in a particular
way. It can also help us to understand and use the ideas of others who have
done similar things.
We can use a framework like a travel map. We can read a map, because others
before us have come up with common symbols to mark streets, lakes, highways,
cities, mountains, rivers, etc...The scale on a map tells us how far apart
different places are, so we will get an idea how long it might take us to
get from one point to the next. A map also shows us that there may be many
different paths that can be taken to get to the same place.
A framework can help us decide and explain the route we are taking: why would
we use certain methods and not others to get to a certain point. People might
have tried a similar path before and have had different experiences using
one road versus another. Or, there may be paths that have never been explored.
With a conceptual framework, we can explain why we would try this or that
path, based on the experiences of others, and on what we ourselves would like
to explore or discover.
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Health promotion intervention
Interventions are the things that people do to make a difference, to change
something. In many health research projects, there is only one intervention,
such as giving patients a new pill. The health researchers have an idea that
the pill will make people better (that is their theory, or part of their conceptual
framework). They compare how people were before they took the pill to how
they are after they took the pill, to find out whether the pill had an effect;
and whether the effect was to make people better.
In the Mujer Sana - Comunidad Sana project, which is a health promotion project,
there were many interventions. For example, everything that the Lay Health
Promoters did to reach out to other women, to encourage them to participate
in cancer screening, can be considered an intervention. Everything that the
Advisory Committee did to help the Hispanic community advocate in the health
system, also can be considered an intervention. Everything the co-ordinator
did to help the LAZO members feel more powerful in the Community Health Centre
was also an intervention. As participatory researchers, we wanted to know
if the activities (the interventions, the project) made the differences that
we had in mind, in ourselves, in the women we reached out to, and in the community
as a whole. In summary, the intervention components for this project were:
The ideas we had about what interventions would lead to what kinds of changes,
and why, are part of our conceptual framework.
The way we set up the project to find out whether the interventions actually
resulted in the changes we expected, is fully described in our