Community Engagement and Research (CER)

An Institute of Medicine report, Crossing the Quality Chasm, called for a major campaign to discover effective methods for improving health and reducing health disparities at the national, regional, state, and local levels of society. This call to action resonates in the Delaware Valley, a region that faces the challenge of mitigating the human impact and economic costs associated with relatively high levels of chronic and infectious disease. Addressing this challenge effectively will require transformation of the process that moves clinical research findings into community and clinical practice settings serving the needs of diverse populations. DVICTS institutions will advance this agenda by involving community organizations and their representatives, clinical practices and healthcare providers, and institutional investigators in developing, implementing and evaluating translational research initiatives directed towards improving population health in the region.

The Delaware Valley Unit for Community Engagement in Research (CER) is a central component of DVICTS that will provide leadership and support for involving community organizations, primary care practices, and diverse populations in clinical and translational science research. The long-term goal of CER is to increase community involvement in the development, implementation, and evaluation of clinical and translational science research. Specifically, CER is designed to achieve the following aims:

  • Aim 1. Establish a new infrastructure that actively involves the community in setting clinical and translational research priorities, catalyzes new community and institutional interactions that align community health needs with research initiatives, and facilitates informed participation relevant research by the community.

  • Aim 2. Develop new community-institution partnerships in clinical and translational science; increase community member knowledge about clinical and translational science research, promote community awareness of research initiatives that are aligned with community health needs, and improve community access to opportunities to register for research studies of interest.

  • Aim 3. Identify, train, and mentor community leaders and healthcare providers and institutional trainees, researchers, and scholars in the principles and practices of community-based participatory research; increase the participation of diverse populations in clinical and translational science research; and promote the dissemination of research findings.

A CER Office, including integrated CER Community Partnership Workgroup and Population Research Workgroup, a Community Advisory Committee (CAC), and a Coordinating Committee will lead a concerted effort to achieve these aims. The Community Advisory Committee will provide guidance to the DVICTS Executive Committee on program policy, and work with CER to define community needs and shape research and dissemination plans. The CER Community Partnership Workgroup will involve community partners and deliver unique and collaborative community educational outreach programs to increase community member knowledge about, access to, and inclusion in community-based research studies. The CER Population Research Workgroup will use innovative methods to prepare the community, community leaders, and DVICTS researchers for collaboration and will facilitate the recruitment of community members to relevant studies. The CER Office, both workgroups, and the Community Advisory Committee will support the dissemination of research findings.