The Community Engagement (CE) program bridges researchers and local communities, building sustainable partnerships to ensure that research initiatives meet real community needs. Researchers benefit by focusing on timely, responsive, culturally relevant research questions, while community members can directly influence research choices and academic-community relations. Moreover, CE provides support that ensures researchers understand the health needs and research barriers of special populations and works to facilitate new academic-community partnerships. As such, CE has developed a range of novel strategies and approaches to engage diverse communities and facilitate meaningful academic-community partnerships.
Engaging communities from different backgrounds and cultures is important to ensure that medications and interventions are effective for different groups. Many of the available medications and therapies were developed based on clinical trials that included a vast majority of White/Caucasian research participants, in spite of the fact that minority groups such as African American and Latino communities bear the greatest burden across various diseases, such as diabetes, hypertension and some cancers. While minority groups are continuing to grow and make up a large proportion of the U.S. population, they are considerably underrepresented in clinical trial participants.
This lack of participation in research may contribute to the many health disparities we see in our most vulnerable and underserved communities. Engaging these communities requires different approaches, including providing culturally relevant educational information, listening to and responding to the communities’ fears and concerns about research and the healthcare system more generally, and empowering them to be informed research participants.
In the links below, we highlight some of the varying approaches our team has utilized when working with communities in order to help remove barriers to research participation. The work described here includes a variety of approaches to achieve these goals - community organizing, social marketing, integrating the research community into the lay community, and utilizing the power of entertainment to provide accurate and culturally appropriate messaging about health and research.
- Talk Shows as a Vehicle for Research Engagement and Dissemination
- Social Marketing in Targeted Communities
- Entertainment Media as a Means to Address Health Disparities
- Bridging Researchers and Diverse Los Angeles Communities
- Promotoras de Salud as Research Ambassadors in Latino Communities
- Innovative Technology as a Means to Increase Scientific Literacy and Research Readines
We expect that this is only the beginning of our work in this area and hope to continue to develop, test and deliver innovative approaches to community engagement that will lead to a reduction in health disparities and an increase in healthier communities across populations.