Background: Community health centers (CHCs) and their patients are underrepresented in research and Alliance of Chicago’s Collaborations for Health and Empowered Community-based Scientists (CHECS) project will address this issue. Underserved communities served by CHCs experience acute health disparities and include individuals who are poor, racial and ethnic minorities, culturally isolated, homeless, and minorities by sexual orientation and gender identity. These vulnerable groups have specific health needs and interests that can be optimally addressed by engaging them as active participants in all phases of research.
Proposed Solution to the Problem: Training to build PCOR research capacity for new investigators has not universally been available to patients and clinicians at CHCs. Thus, the CHECS Project will develop a PCOR community-based curriculum to be implemented among the CHC community.
Objectives: The CHECS Project is designed to address an identified need for new PI training in community-based settings and will harness resources from the Clinical Directors Network ENCORE project and will build upon the success of the curriculum to develop a new cohort of PCOR-focused researchers in community-based settings.
Activities: In Project Year 1, the CHECS Project will implement an augmented EnCoRE online training program for the entire Alliance Network. The project team will collaboratively develop a training curriculum and competitive process for accepting CHC and patient investigators for an intensive mentored curriculum to build capacity to implement the principles of PCOR/CER methods. An advisory board consisting of patients, established researchers, and CHC clinicians will be formed to provide mentorship, develop the curriculum and applicant review process, and lead focused educational sessions. Patients and clinicians participating in the curriculum will blend both perspectives, and may increase feasibility of implementation of community-based research.
In Project Year 2, the CHECS Project will implement an intensive mentored PCOR/CER training curriculum. Participants will be selected on a competitive basis; selection will occur after review of the advisory board composed of patients, CHC clinicians, and academic researchers with a track record of community-based participatory research and PCOR/CER. The long-term goal at the end of the training will be for participants to have conceptualized a collaborative research study that engages patients as co-investigators to address pressing health issues encountered by patients served at CHCs.
Outcomes and Outputs: The main outcomes of the project include the development of community health-focused training curriculum and the implementation of the curriculum made available to patients and clinicians from CHCs. At the end of the CHECS program, participants will have conceptualized a collaborative research study that engages patients as co-investigators to address pressing health issues encountered by patients served at CHCs.
Project Collaborators: For the CHECS Project, Alliance will leverage its close relationship with Clinical Directors Network (CDN), Community Based Healthy Lifestyles Project (CHeLP), Center for Community Health (CCH) at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine, and the Chicago CTSAs for Community Engagement (C3), which involves multiple academic institutions, the Chicago Department of Public Health, and other community-based organizations.