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Archive for June, 2008

Identifying Opinion Leaders

Valente, T.W.; Pumpuang, P. “Identifying Opinion Leaders to Promote Behavior Change.” Health Education & Behavior 2007; 34:881.

This article begins by listing how opinion leaders can help with health promotion efforts:

  • Provide entree and legitimation
  • Provide communication from their communities
  • Act as role models for behavior change
  • Convey health messages
  • Contribute to sustainability after a specific program has ended

Programs that use peer opinion leaders are generally more effective. Opinion leaders influence behavior in their communities through awareness-raising, persuasion, norm establishment/reinforcement, and resource leveraging. Opinion leaders are also known as champions, lay health advisors, health advocates, promotoras, behavior change agents, peer leaders, and community leaders. The best methods for identifying opinion leaders will vary depending on a project’s characteristics and setting; this article presents ten methods:

  1. Celebrities (recruit people who are nationally, regionally, or locally known)
  2. Self-selection (solicit volunteers)
  3. Self-identification (administer questionnaire with a leadership scale)
  4. Staff selected (project staff select leaders based on community observation)
  5. Positional (community members who occupy leadership positions)
  6. Judge’s ratings (knowledgeable community members identify leaders)
  7. Expert identification (trained ethnographers study community)
  8. Snowball (ask who people go to for advice, then interview them in turn)
  9. Sample sociometric (randomly selected respondents nominate leaders; those receiving frequent nominations are chosen)
  10. Sociometric (all respondents are interviewed and those receiving frequent nominations are selected)

Ideally, a health promotion project would use multiple methods to find and select opinion leaders. Once they are identified and recruited, training and support are essential.

Metrics! Metrics! Metrics! at the Special Libraries Association

How can benchmarking, ROI, and other metrics illustrate value to users and stakeholders?  This standing-room-only session at the Special Libraries Association meeting featured analysts from Outsell shared benchmarking results and suggested combining such comparative data with “Market Penetration” (the ratio of your actual to potential users).  Panelists also discussed the difference between “Operational Metrics” (measures needed for daily library management activities) and “Strategic Metrics” (measures that show the library’s value to the organization).  They described strategic assessment–in which 6-8 strategic actions that support the organization’s critical strategies are identified through user and stakeholder research combined with group brainstorming.  After strategic actions are selected, metrics are determined, and ownership is assigned.  Stakeholder research includes needs assessment, client satisfaction studies, and return on investment/cost-benefit analysis.  Outsell panelists also advocated use of a combination of qualitative and quantitative research, since “numbers alone do not tell the story,”  and attention to organization-wide standards (such as Balanced Scorecard and/or Total Quality Management).

This bright and early morning session on 6/16/08 was hosted and organized by the Special Libraries Association’s Government Information Division.  Librarians in the audience shared their challenges and best practices for applying metrics to quantify and justify their operations.   The PowerPoint from Outsell should be available soon at the division’s web site.