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Abstract

Background: Collective efficacy (CE) is a group’s shared belief that through their united efforts they can overcome challenges to achieve common goals (Bandura, 1993; 1997). CE has been shown to be related to professional growth, stress reduction, and overall collaborative impact in studies of groups responding to ongoing challenges as well as unforeseen circumstances (i.e. teachers, first-responders, and community responses to natural disasters) (Benight, 2004; Donohoo, 2016; Prati et al., 2011). COVID-19 has forced organizations serving individuals with disabilities to come together to adapt and change the ways in which they serve the disability community.

Objective: This study examines reported attributes of CE as experienced by Arizona Developmental Disability Network (ADDN) members and their partners. This study respectively examines CE prior to COVID-19, currently, and predicted likelihood of CE attributes continuing in the future.

Method: This mixed-method study involves data collected through a questionnaire and qualitative data collected through interviews with ADDN members and their partners.

Results: The questionnaire results describe and compare the attributes of CE using sub-domains of social cohesion and trust, group competence, and enabling structures in three-time frames: prior to COVID-19, currently, and prediction of six months from now. The interviews provide narrative description of specific ADDN activities, roles, and perceptions; thus, adding a valuable dimension to interpreting the results.

Conclusion: ADDN members and their partners have persisted and quickly adapted to COVID-19. These connections made during this time are likely to remain and help better serve Arizona’s disability community.

Plain Language Summary

A group that believes they can reach a common goal by working together is more likely to achieve that goal. This is called collective efficacy (CE). CE is connected to many positive outcomes. For example, teachers with CE can help student grades. Communities with high CE have people who are less stressed. The pandemic has made new problems for people with disabilities. Many groups that serve those with disabilities need to work together in new ways. Groups with high CE might respond better to these crises.

Disability-serving agencies in Arizona worked together in new ways. This study looked at what made this group a success. This study also looked at what helped the group have high CE. We talked one-on-one with people from this group. We also sent a survey to this group. We asked questions on their CE before and during the pandemic. We also asked what they thought would happen in the future.

We found that trust, group ability, and leadership are all important pieces of CE. We also found that the CE did change in this group because of the pandemic. The group thought they were more successful now than before when they had low CE.

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