A critical discussion of the Community Readiness Model using a case study of childhood obesity prevention in England

Recent reforms to the public health system in England aim to generate co-ordinated action between local authorities, healthcare systems and communities to target local health priorities. To support this effort, researchers must contribute and evaluate appropriate strategies for designing interventions tailored to community-specific needs. One strategy is to apply the Community Readiness Model (CRM), which uses key informant interviews to assess a community's readiness to address local issues. This article presents a critical discussion of the CRM developed from a case study of obesity prevention in pre-adolescent girls within a community in the United Kingdom. Data were collected between February and November 2011. We offer lessons learnt and recommendations relating to (i) modifications to the interview guide; (ii) key informant identification; (iii) conducting interviews to theoretical saturation; (iv) using key informants to define their community; (v) key informant's ability to respond on behalf of the community; (vi) using a qualitative model with a quantitative scoring system; and (vii) the optimum application of transcript scoring. In conclusion, the CRM can help researchers, health professionals and local authorities identify the priorities of a community. It is recommended that users of the model be careful to identify and recruit suitable key informants with the help of the community under study, select an appropriate ‘community’ and utilise the qualitative findings to strengthen the interpretation of the readiness score.