ARRA IMPACT REPORT:
Community Engagement


Public Health Burden
Over the last two decades, research and practice in health promotion have increasingly relied on community engagement, defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as “the process of working collaboratively with and through groups of people affiliated by geographic proximity, special interest, or similar situations to address issues affecting the well-being of those people.” Supporting community engagement research and strategies helps build trust, enlist new resources and allies, creates better communication, and improves overall health outcomes.

Publication, “Principles of Community Engagement”
This ARRA-funded publication was developed as part of the work of the Clinical and Translational Science Awards (CTSA). Recognizing that community involvement is essential to the identification of health concerns and interventions, a task force was created to update and expand the 1997 publication, “Principles of Community Engagement,” originally published by the CDC and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. In a forward to the updated version, the U.S. Surgeon General, Dr. Regina Benjamin, addressed the need for this new edition of the CDC publication, noting the additional detail of this new version that responds to “changes in our larger social context,” the increased focus on community-engaged health research and the move to electronic communication and virtual communities. In view of these needs, development of this publication was a cross-agency collaborative effort between the CTSA program, the NIH, the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, and the CDC.1 The resulting product provides public health professionals, health care providers, academic and community researchers, and community-based leaders with a scientifically-based approach and practical guide for engaging partners in research and public health projects.

Healthy Living Research Center
This ARRA-funded CTSA project was awarded to the University of Rochester to develop the Healthy Living Research Center which conducts translational research to understand the motivational and psychological mechanisms that drive health behavior change. The funding allowed 1) the establishment of a fully equipped translational behavioral research facility for the purpose of translating innovative behavioral strategies from research to clinical practice settings; 2) the expansion of infrastructure to accelerate comparative effectiveness and cost effectiveness research of novel behavioral interventions; and 3) the implementation of translational behavioral research in the Greater Rochester Practice-based Research Network (PBRN) through provision of a conduit between academic researchers and the community. Examples of healthy living research projects included: 1) development of an effective communication program for primary care physicians2; 2) understanding the relationship between tobacco dependence and mental health; and3 3) addressing the relationship of motivation, mental health and exercise.4

Collaboration Tool to Accelerate the Translation of Research Findings into the Community
ARRA funding to the University of Texas Health Sciences Center at San Antonio was used to accelerate the establishment of productive, collaborative partnerships between academic investigators and community clinicians across South Texas. With these funds, the university was able to implement the electronic Primary Care Research Network (ePCRN), an electronic network of 20 primary care clinics, to accelerate the translation of research findings into community settings where most people receive their care. Ten of the twenty sites primarily serve uninsured populations. In addition to incorporating its own single Practice-based Research Network into the ePCRN, the university recruited an additional 26 regional PBRNs to participate. These partnerships enhance the ability of investigators to conduct research through PBRNs by providing access for physicians to participate in clinical research while facilitating oversight of projects, providing guidance where needed, and ensuring standardization of data collection and analysis.5

The ARRA funding also enabled the university to establish HIPPA compliant and secure Internet connections between an individual site’s electronic health records systems and a standardized Clinical Data Repository (CDR). This connection enables the Network Director to conduct research queries. It also enables the implementation of evidence-based guidelines on a patient-specific basis to produce point-of-care reminders, provide reporting services on data from the individual CDRs maintained at each practice location, and aggregate and transfer data across practices to a centralized data repository (identified or de-identified) as allowed under our agreement with the practices. The system has already expedited a major clinical trial by sending messages to clinicians identifying eligible patients for an NIH-funded clinical trial of aspirin use by elderly patients.5

Contributing NIH Institutes & Centers

  • National Center for Research Resources (NCRR)

  1. ISBN: 9780160888038
    1K23DK081317-01A1 - ESTRELLA, MICHELLE M - JOHNS HOPKINS UNIVERSITY - BALTIMORE - MD
  2. 3UL1RR024160-04S3, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19773563 - PEARSON, THOMAS ARTHUR - UNIVERSITY OF ROCHESTER - ROCHESTER - NY
  3. 3UL1RR024160-04S3, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20192109 - PEARSON, THOMAS ARTHUR - UNIVERSITY OF ROCHESTER - ROCHESTER - NY
  4. 3UL1RR024160-04S3, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21827332 - PEARSON, THOMAS ARTHUR - UNIVERSITY OF ROCHESTER - ROCHESTER - NY
  5. 3R01EB008366-03S1 - NIKLASON, LAURA E - YALE UNIVERSITY - NEW HAVEN - CT