CTSAs and Community Engagement
Community Engagement, the active involvement of ALL community members in medical research, is a major priority of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and all CTSA universities. Improving health is important to all of us. We have vital knowledge about our own health and the conditions we face day-to-day that are essential to informing medical research. In addition, science has shown that health and disease are different for different populations. Having direct input from people is one very significant part of research.
To improve the health of everyone, research studies need to include everyone:
- men and women
- children, teens, adults and seniors
- diverse ethnic populations
- people living in urban, suburban and rural communities
- community providers and organizations on the front lines who work with people day-to-day.
Besides taking part in research, we all need to learn the results, so that researchers, community members and providers know the best ways to prevent and treat disease. To improve health and keep the process moving forward, we need to work together — clinical scientists and patients, researchers and community members — combining the most advanced research with real-life knowledge.
As a matter of fact, the Institute of Medicine recommends that engaging the community should be involved in all steps of research. This includes everything from first thinking of a question to designing a study and analyzing results.
The heart of the CTSA community engagement process is shared conversation: an ongoing, two-way exchange. Each university has specific ways to engage people from the community in the process. These include programs such as:
- Research outreach and awareness activities — making the research process more understandable
- Awareness about ways to take part in research (see: Being a Partner in Research, Join the Research Team, Finding Research Studies)
- Community-Based Participatory Research partnering with the Centers for Disease Control’s Prevention Research Centers
- Learning more about research discoveries and how they apply to you
- Helping research teams throughout medical universities learn about and achieve community engagement goals
As CTSA universities transform research, community engagement is one of the most important goals. By working together, with shared perspectives and knowledge, we can address the health needs of all people and improve health for all communities.
The REAL Program
The Research Education, Awareness and Learning (REAL) Program, is sponsored by the Cleveland CTSC. The program focuses on research outreach. it aims to facilitate, support and grow such community-engaged research. It accomplishes this through outreach programs and education.
For more information:
Go to the Research Center health topic.