The proposed study, Community and Research: Equal Partners in Health (CAREPH), seeks to determine how a local community health coalition can effectively initiate and sustain meaningful engagement with university- based researchers around community-identified health concerns. Results of the study will advance the development of a replicable model for (1) involving communities in research and researchers in the community;and (2) identifying networks, infrastructure, and conditions that will promote community research that is for, by, and with the community. The proposed project builds on the work of an existing community health coalition, the Galveston Island Community Research Advisory Committee (GICRAC). Two investigators (1 community-based and 1 institution-based) will direct the project.
Specific Aim : Applying communitybased participatory research (CBPR) approaches, a community health coalition will (1) strengthen its own relationships with local community residents, (2) strengthen relationships between university researchers interested in CBPR approaches, and (3) develop sustainable, productive communication between the community and the university's research enterprise. Research Questions: What components of a community organization and development model can a community health coalition use to (1) strengthen its own relationship with local community residents and (2) build trust and respect for local knowledge among university scientists. Research Design and Methods: A cross-sectional qualitative research design with data comprising (1) a self-assessment survey of GICRAC, (2) structured interviews, (3) focus groups/town hall meetings, and (4) participant observations of interactions with (a) members of the Galveston African American Community (local residents and leadership) and (b) university personnel (researchers and executive leadership of the research enterprise). Sessions will be taped, transcribed, and coded using Nvivo 7 qualitative analysis software. Survey data will be analyzed with ReMark software. The research team will analyze the data with the community partner, GICRAC, using a grounded theory approach to detect changes in (1) community understanding of community-building for health, CPBR principles, and university roles in improving health through science;and (2) university personnel's understanding of CBPR principles, value of local knowledge, and means of accessing community expertise. Evidence of a sustainable productive communication will include appointments of community experts to university committees, curricula modifications that emphasize CBPR approaches, and an increase of calls from the community to university researchers to serve as experts in policy change initiatives. Results will be disseminated via town hall meetings, local media, community-based organizations, university communication channels, and grand rounds at the schools of medicine, nursing, and allied health. The proposed project, Community and Research: Equal Partners in Health (CAREPH), is relevant because it (1) enhances public understanding of how researchers use science to improve the public's health and (2) builds mutual trust and respect for local knowledge among the members of a university's research enterprise. When the public and researchers communicate and understand each other, there is a positive impact on the health of communities.