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FIELDWORK ACTIVITY: Observing the Social Determinants of Health in Place in a Time of COVID
Assessment overview
Task Description: Report
Due Date: Friday 1 May 2020, 2pm
Weight: 35%
Assessment description
Putting on your public health social scientist ‘hat’ you will perform an observational/fieldwork activity in which you will undertake a small ethnographic observational activity reflecting on the social determinants of health in a community, in this time of COVID 19. Observing the social determinants of health in local settings, in association with other methods such as using audit tools of neighbourhood health determinants are useful ‘tools’ of public health research. This assignment will develop your skills undertaking socio-demographic profiles of place, undertaking qualitative observational activities and as always, in thinking critically and reflectively. Learning about the social environment we live in is a core and transferrable MPH skill.
To complete the field work activity you are expected to complete the steps below:
1) Choose a community/suburban location- preferably your own local community given (particularly given current/increasing restrictions)
2) Develop a socio-demographic profile of your chosen location;
3) Use your sociodemographic profile to outline particular community issues and needs. How might these issues/needs be heightened during the COVID pandemic (e.g. are there particular population groups at potential risk of more social impacts of COVID)?
4) Undertake an observational activity a - walk/drive to observe the local setting, examine local social media/newspapers within your setting to explore and reflect on the social determinants of health in your community, particularly during this time of COVID 19.
- Use the socio-demographic profile to contextualise your observations and to help you think carefully about what you are observing.
- How is the data you found in the undertaking the socio-demographic profile materialised in place?
- What contribution does the literature add to your understanding of what you are observing?
5) Submit your report, which includes the following: socio-demographic profile, critical analysis of your observations and reflection on the walking activity in up to 2000 words plus attach at least 1 photo image of social determinants of health in the locality.
Fieldwork step 1: Choose a location
The first step is to choose and map a location. You can choose any location (i.e., a suburb within Australia or your home town overseas). Preferably where you live. Think about your choice carefully.
Fieldwork step 2: Develop a socio-demographic profile
Once you have chosen your location you must develop a socio-demographic profile of that locality, that is, what are the socio-demographic characteristics of this locality? To do this you will need to look to some key databases (some examples provided below please note this is not an exhaustive list, what else you can find?).
Examples of Sites you can use for Socio-Demographic Information
• The Australian Bureau of Statistics Community Profile: http://www.abs.gov.au/websitedbs/censushome.nsf/home/communityprofiles. Through this site you can access data about specific areas. Once you type in the name of your suburb it will take you to a page that includes a box “quick stat” on the right hand side – this is the easiest way to get some summary information.
• Profile id: http://profile.id.com.au/brisbane?WebID=120. This site includes much of the information you can access on the ABS site, but you may find some additional information about unemployment rate; labour force participation; single parent families (with children under 15 years).
• My Healthy Communities: http://www.myhealthycommunities.gov.au/. This site provides some health related information. Click on the My Community tab on the right for health information specific to a local area.
• Local council websites
• Local primary health network websites
To provide a good socio-demographic profile of your locality you should consider a range of characteristics, for example, the size of the population, age distribution, unemployment rates, labour force participation, size of households, income, available services, transportation, health care services etc. You may also be able to access information about health in your locality, the databases we have provided are linked to broader areas (i.e., primary health networks) rather than specific suburbs, but you can extrapolate from there. You may find some better examples, feel free to explore.
Fieldwork step 3: Observational activity and reflection
Now that you have developed a profile of your locality it is important to investigate what the locality actually looks like on the ground, and during this time to also consider it through print and social media (a lot of communities have their own Facebook pages – don’t get lost here, remember this is a critical observation). Please refer to the readings and audit tools provided in the assessment folder on Blackboard. Undertake an observational review of the locality (taking notes as you go about the social determinants of health). Reflect on your experience of using the observational method to examine the social determinants of health and place. You should also draw on the literature to help you understand what you are observing. Some issues to explore via critical analysis of your observations and reflection of the activity include:
• The physical environment
• The social environment
• The social practices/ activities of people
• The social and health resources in the locality
• The print and social media environment
• What the walk/drive made you think/feel about the social determinants of health in that locality
You must also attach at least one photo image of your chosen locality that highlights the social determinants of health. Below are some dos and don’ts of taking photos. (The list has been drawn from Photovoice Hamilton (2007, pg 11-12).
Dos and Don’ts of taking photos
• The aim of the observational walk is to explore place – not people. Please do not take photos of people.
• Be respectful of the communities you are visiting.
• Be prepared. Be ready to explain about the project to community members, if they ask what you are doing.
• When can you include a photo of a person - In a public place like a park, you can take someone’s photo without permission, if they are far away and can’t be recognized in the picture.
• Respect the lives and safety of others. When you take photos for your project, think of people’s safety first and be respectful of peoples’ lives.
• Using a camera gives the photographer a lot of power to create a message that is visually loaded with meaning; within the image is the photographer’s values and message, and those the viewers will take away with them. Therefore, it’s important to represent the image and the subjects within the image in an accurate way.
Please note: there are no right or wrong ways to do this (aside from not taking photos of people). It is about your impression of the local resources (i.e. the determinants of health) - these may include buildings or objects or part of the road, or more sensory things which reflect the quality/safety/health of the environment.
Fieldwork step 4: Submit your Fieldwork Activity Report
Now that you have developed a socio-demographic profile and taken an observational walk/drive around your locality, you need to compile this into a 2000 word report. Include your socio-demographic profile, critical analysis of your observations and reflection of the activity and at least one photo image in a report style document.
Your fieldwork activity report, which must include in-text citations and a reference list (your reference list does not count in your word total) is to be uploaded to the Blackboard. The submission link can be found in the ‘Assessment 2: Fieldwork Activity’ folder in the ‘Assessment’ tab on your course BlackBoard site.
Assignment Format Requirements
Please ensure that your assignment complies with the following formatting specifications.
• Assessment cover sheet: Please sign and attach the assessment cover sheet (available in the assessment tab on the course BB site) to the front of your submission. Typing your name in the Cover Sheet Declaration will suffice as your signature that the work has not been plagiarised.
• Writing style: The case study should be written in good academic English and draw on course readings and additional literature - but you can use the first person singular.
• Word limit: As indicated above the case study should be no more than 2000 words. Please note this does not include the reference list.
• Paper Size: Standard A4 (210 x 297mm)
• Margins: All margins at least 2.0cm
• Font: At least 11 point and Times New Roman or Arial only
• Line spacing: 1.5 line spacing
• References: Harvard or APA style. Attach references as a separate page at the end of your assignment. Each week's journal submission must contain appropriate referencing - you must reference all sources used.
• File Name: LastName_PUBH7620 Fieldwork activity

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