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Citizens' initiatives for care and welfare in the Netherlands: an ecological analysis.

Knaap, T. van der, Smelik, J., Jong, F. de, Spreeuwenberg, P., Groenewegen, P. Citizens' initiatives for care and welfare in the Netherlands: an ecological analysis. BMC Public Health: 2019(1334)
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In the Netherlands as well as in other countries citizens take initiatives to provide or maintain services in the area of care and welfare. Citizens’ initiatives (CI’s) are organisations some of which have a formal structure while others are informally connected groups of citizens, that are established by a group of citizens with the aim to increase the health and welfare within their local community and that are not focused on making a profit. Although CI’s have been around since at least the 1970’s little research has been done on the phenomenon, with most of it consisting of case studies or qualitative exploratory research. To fill part of this gap in knowledge, we have studied the geographical variation in the presence of CI’s in the Netherlands and tried to explain this variation.

Data on the presence of CI’s were obtained by combining two existing inventories. We did an ecological regression analysis to test hypotheses about the relationship between the presence of CI’s and the existence of a care vacuum, the capacity for self-organisation and models of action in local communities.

We counted 452 CI’s in care and welfare in the Netherlands in January 2016. Our results show a spatial concentration of care initiatives in urban areas in the Randstad cities in the west of the country and in rural areas in the south-east. The presence of CI’s is only weakly associated with a care vacuum, but is related to indicators for the capacity of concerted action and models of action.

There are by now a considerable number of CI’s in the area of care and welfare in the Netherlands. Apparently, citizens take collective initiatives to provide services that are not, or no longer, available to the local community. The initiatives are concentrated in certain parts of the country. However, our theoretical model to explain this geographical pattern is only partially confirmed.