Children and adolescents spend more of their waking hours at school than in any other environment. Unlike clinics or hospitals, schools represent the central setting in which entire communities of young people develop into healthy adults. While it is clear that students perform better when they come to class healthy and ready to learn, researchers have little understanding of how to leverage school-based health interventions to positively affect both health outcomes and educational achievement. In formulating research strategies and interventions to address pediatric health disparities and the education achievement gap, stakeholder involvement from the education and healthcare fields is essential. The project team’s proposed solution is to form a collaborative of students, families, educators, healthcare providers, and researchers in Detroit, Michigan to develop a shared understanding of how health interacts with and affects a student’s long-term achievement and to use that understanding to develop a patient-centered research agenda.
The project team’s approach will focus on creating a forum in which collaborative relationships are supported and the input of students and families is prioritized. Bimonthly meetings will focus on development of shared decision making followed by co-learning on the research process and patient-centered outcomes. Development of a research agenda will take place in stages cofacilitated by community coleaders to maximize patient and stakeholder input. A community symposium will be held to share results of the ensuing research agenda followed by collaborative development of a strategic plan for future comparative effectiveness research (CER) and dissemination. Outcomes will include:
- A memorandum of understanding that is developed by the collaborative and guided by the PCORI Engagement Rubric;
- The results of surveys and semi-structured interviews conducted during the award period with collaborative members to evaluate the collaborative process with regard to inclusion, decision making, and transparency;
- A school-based health research agenda developed by stakeholders around prioritized health issues meaningful to students and families;
- A draft strategic plan for future CER to be executed by the collaborative, including innovative dissemination techniques and funding opportunities.
The project will be in collaboration with 482Forward, a citywide education organizing network comprised of neighborhood associations, parents, and youth committed to ensuring that all Detroit children have access to an excellent education, regardless of their race or socioeconomic status. Group meetings will be led by two coleaders from 482Forward, who are well known in the Detroit education community. The project team will work with coleaders, families, and educators to ensure young patient partners receive logistical support to attend meetings (i.e., reminders, transportation coordination). Additionally, through supportive co-learning, the project team will develop meaningful research capacity among the students, families, and community stakeholders who participate. The project team hopes that by developing working relationships founded on trust, transparency, and mutual respect, the Motor City School Health Collaborative will not only create a patient-centered research agenda for the future but will continue to pursue that agenda beyond this Engagement Award and ultimately have a lasting positive impact on the health and well-being of students in Detroit and beyond.