Health organizations have been oriented to meeting needs and fulfilling demands which are perceived and defined by physician providers (Freidson, 1970 Stevens, 1971). Organizational goals, services, structures, and processes of operation were formulated in accordance with the interests, values, and concerns of provider-members. Latent to this provider orientation was the assumption that professional members were the ones most qualified to determine what was best for the organization and for its consumers (Freidson 1971). In recent times, however, numerous social changes have occurred on a societal level and within the institution of medicine (Hepner, 1972; Somers, 1971; Rosengren and Lefton, 1969). These changes have encouraged consumers to challenge the provider orientation of health organizations and to ask whether providers or consumers should determine the actions of the organization (Berki and Heston, 1972; Zola and McKinlay, 1974; Corey et al, 1972).

It is within this context that the Penn Urban Health Services Center at the Graduate Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania sought to develop a consumer orientation through the mechanism of community involvement. To move toward attaining this goal, Penn-Urb established a Community Involvement Committee (CIC) which had two charges:

  1. to develop a mechanism by which information could be exchanged between the health organizations and the community.
  2. to develop a mechanism for effectively involving the community in the process of planning and developing Penn-Urb.

It was hoped that through the fulfillment of these two charges, Penn-Urb and its community could increase their awareness and understanding of each other and become more responsive to respective needs and demands.

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