Department of Population Health researcher Virginia A. Brown, Ph.D., is wrapping up her project, “Engaging Community by Engaging Researchers: PCOR in Action,” which was funded by the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute Eugene Washington PCORI Engagement Award.
In June, she led a community inquiry workshop with local community stakeholders to begin the conversation about what meaningful involvement of patients, caregivers, clinicians and other health care stakeholders throughout the research process can look like. Takeaways from the workshop are summarized below.
Community-engaged research transforms how research is conducted, moving from research done on the community to research done with the community. For Courtney Clyatt, a PCORI program officer, when researchers and community members co-create a project together, the product reflects “research guided by patients, caregivers, and the broader healthcare community.” The medical school’s first PCORI award came at the start of the COVID pandemic, causing Brown’s team to rethink engagement and how to develop a culture of collaborative, patient-centered research at Dell Med.
To build a bridge between researchers and the community, Brown’s project began by establishing the Community Collaborative for Mental Health, which represents a sustainable model of creating an ongoing expansion of an academic and community partnership committed to fostering a culture of stakeholder-engaged research practices. Over the last year, members of the collaborative engaged in training to enhance their leadership and organizational capacity to plan, participate in and conduct research, as well as act upon research findings as a means of addressing and transforming local health and health care problems in behavioral health and beyond.
Ultimately, community-based participatory research is an approach to research that is about effecting change to improve health and well-being in communities. Community-based participatory research studies can involve different methods and designs — there is not a one-size-fits-all method. Researchers should use engagement opportunities and resources to rethink how to collaborate with community stakeholders even before a proposal for a new project design is created. If you are interested in collaborative research methods, there are a variety of available approaches in place at Dell Med. Reach out to Virginia A. Brown or Christine Thomas to learn more.