CTSI pilots new tool for engaging communities to inform your research

Published by CTSI on August 17, 2016

CTSI’s Office of Community Engagement to Advance Research and Community Health (CEARCH) recently successfully piloted the Community Engagement Studio model aimed at better engaging the community to help inform research conducted at the University of Minnesota.

“We want to give people who aren’t affiliated with the University a meaningful way to contribute to research, while arming investigators with insights that can benefit their studies.”

The Community Engagement (CE) Studio model was initially developed by Vanderbilt University’s Institute for Clinical and Translational Science and engages community members in the planning, practices, implementation, recruitment, retention, and dissemination of clinical research.

“We brought the Community Engagement Studio model to the University of Minnesota as part of an ongoing effort to enhance the way we collaborate with the public on research,” says Mickey Eder, PhD, a CTSI Associate Director who oversees the Community Engagement to Advance Research and Community Health (CEARCH) function. “We want to give people who aren’t affiliated with the University a meaningful way to contribute to research, while arming investigators with insights that can benefit their studies.”

"We were impressed by the enthusiasm and willingness of our community experts to share their insights, and their perspectives provided unexpected information that changed and enriched our research plans."

At the CTSI pilot studio, University of Minnesota researchers Stephanie Misono (PI), MD, MPH, and Schelomo Marmor, PhD, MPH, invited feedback from laryngeal cancer patients about how cancer treatment types are determined, how patients perceive that process, and how patients feel about their treatment outcomes.  

The team had requested a CE Studio as a follow-up to earlier laryngeal cancer studies they’d conducted. Patient insights will be used to design a patient-centered study examining laryngeal cancer treatment selection.

The CE Studio added value to their research, as Dr. Misono, a CTSI KL2 scholar and an Assistant Professor with the University’s Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, explains:

“Participating in the Community Engagement Studio was humbling and inspiring. We were impressed by the enthusiasm and willingness of our community experts to share their insights, and their perspectives provided unexpected information that changed and enriched our research plans. Based on this experience, we hope to participate in future Studios.”

Dr. Marmor, a Department of Surgery researcher supporting Dr. Misono’s study found the experience to be beneficial as well, adding:

“The Community Engagement Studio was an exceptionally useful research exercise. The studio is a novel and relatively easy way to engage patients and listen to their experiences.”

Representatives from Vanderbilt University led discussions with more than 70 faculty and community members about the program at two events last week, and created a program Toolkit for people to learn more. 

“The Community Engagement Studio was an exceptionally useful research exercise. The studio is a novel and relatively easy way to engage patients and listen to their experiences.”

“Over the coming months CTSI plans to join several other academic institutions and incorporate the program into its suite of community engagement resources available to researchers,” says Dr. Eder. “The program brings CTSI into alignment with the NIH’s National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences’ goals of expanding community involvement in research and in translating science discoveries that lead to improved health.”

If you’re interested in requesting a Community Engagement Studio for your research, contact cearch@umn.edu.

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