Research Notebook

What do you know about Leonardo da Vinci? He painted the Mona Lisa! He wrote his notes backwards! He designed bridges and flying machines! He was the ultimate artist innovator.

da Vinci's notebook, writes Jonathan Jones at The Guardian, represents “the living record of a universal mind.” 

IDEAS xLab has spent years looking at different models and frameworks from Culture, Community Development and Health. The sheer volume is overwhelming. 

In the tradition of da Vinci, this space on our website is intended to share with you what we feel to be the most relevant and adaptable research for the work we are doing as cultural innovators in population health. 

We hope that you will find it helpful too!


Determinants of Health

Clinical care, the focus of our health systems, only account for 11% of our overall health. However, it is necessary to view health as a holistic measure of an individual's entire living situation and life experience. These factors that strongly affect an individuals overall quality of health are the determinants of health.

Extending far beyond medical care, these factors can be used to improve health within the clinical, population, and public health spaces.


Culture Mapping + HOPE

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Peter Drucker famously said “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” Nobody denies the critical importance of culture to a company's success. And yet, although everyone agrees that culture is of vital importance, culture still seems fuzzy, vague and difficult to grasp. It becomes even more challenging when trying to understand the culture of a community. Culture change initiatives are often well-meaning, but end up as a series of feel-good exercises. They create a feeling that progress is being made, but ultimately fail to deliver results. IDEAS xLab has adapted concepts from anthropology, business and public health as a tool for creating partnerships that operationalize HOPE through a cultural mapping process.  This chart can help communities think through where is the best place to start cultural change programs. 


ACEs + HOPE

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Interesting report describing the current science concerning the key role that experience plays in child development, adding to our current understanding of the power of positive experiences to mitigate the negative role played by adverse childhood experiences (ACEs). While ACEs are important, an exclusive focus on adverse experiences risks labeling children and their families, and it neglects to turn attention toward the possibility for flourishing even in the face of adversity and the promotion of the positive experiences that children need. We explore here how positive experiences in the day-to-day relationships and interactions that children experience in childhood despite adversity have lasting impacts on adult health.


HOPE Theory + Measurement

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In this research, Hope is defined as the perceived capability to derive pathways to desired goals, and motivate oneself via agency thinking to use those pathways. The adult and child hope scales that are derived from hope theory are described. Hope theory is compared to theories of learned optimism, optimism, self-efficacy, and self-esteem. Higher hope consistently is related to better outcomes in academics, athletics, physical health, psychological adjustment, and psychotherapy. Processes that lessen hope in children and adults are reviewed.


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This report presents a robust definition of culture and outlines key options for health policy-makers to consider. Among them is the strong recommendation that policy-makers critically examine their own shared values and priorities related to health and well-being, and how these influence daily practices and decision-making. This involves reevaluating assumptions about what constitutes evidence, and supporting strategies that integrate the complexities of lived experience into an expanded evidence base.