Development of a novel social incubator for health promoting initiatives in a disadvantaged region

Sivan Spitzer-Shohat, Jumanah Essa-Hadad, Mary C.J. Rudolf

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4 Scopus citations


Background: Bottom-up approaches to disparity reduction present a departure from traditional service models where health services are traditionally delivered top-down. Raphael, a novel bottom-up social incubator, was developed in a disadvantaged region with the aim of 'hatching' innovative health improvement interventions through academia-community partnership. Methods: Community organizations were invited to submit proposals for incubation. Selection was made using the criteria of innovation, population neediness and potential for health impact and sustainability. Raphael partnered with organizations to pilot and evaluate their intervention with $5000 seed-funding. The evaluation was guided by the conceptual framework of technological incubators. Outcomes and sustainability were ascertained through qualitative and quantitative analysis of records and interviews at 12 months and 3-5 years, and the Community Impact of Research Oriented Partnerships (CIROP) questionnaire was administered to community partners. Results: Ninety proposals were submitted between 2013 and 2015 principally from non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Thirteen interventions were selected for 'incubation'. Twelve successfully 'hatched': three demonstrated sustainability with extension locally or nationally through acquiring external competitive funding; six continued to have influence within their organizations; three failed to continue beyond the pilot. Benefits to the organisations included acquisition of skills including advocacy, teaching and health promotion, evaluation skills and ability to utilize acquired knowledge for implementation. CIROP demonstrated that individuals' research skills were reported to improve (mean ± sd) 4.80 ± 2.49 along with confidence in being able to use knowledge acquired in everyday practice (5.50 ± 1.38) and new connections were facilitated (5.33 ± 2.25). Conclusions: Raphael, devised as a 'social incubator', succeeded in nurturing novel ideas engendered by community organizations that aimed to impact on health disparities. Judging by success rates of technological incubators its goals were realized to a considerable degree.

Original languageEnglish
Article number898
JournalBMC Public Health
Issue number1
StatePublished - 10 Jun 2020

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© 2020 The Author(s).


  • Community based participatory research
  • Health inequity
  • Social incubator


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