The Center for Community Health Education Research and Service (CCHERS) Boston BRI…DGE has demonstrated the capacity, capability, and credibility to span institutional barriers and self-interests as a catalytic convener of universities, healthcare providers, patients, and community members in research partnerships. Building the capacity of community-based organizations, coalitions, advocacy groups, patients, caregivers, residents, and other stakeholders is a key strategy for sustainability.
The Boston Paradox, which is often described as “lots of health care, not enough health,” plays itself out most in the neighborhoods served by CCHERS’ partner health centers. The “un-populations” include those who are marginalized in the healthcare system as the underserved, uninsured, uneducated, underclass, unemployed, undocumented, and underrepresented in healthcare and biomedical research in Boston.
Boston BRI…DGE spans the chasm between research institutions and the un-populations. It has convened patients, providers, caregivers, clinicians, communities, policy makers, and popular opinion leaders as advocates and activists for change. The logical next step is building community capacity by providing the tools of engagement to enhance the understanding and benefits of research for practice and policy, leading to stakeholder representation on IRBs of institutions and patient family advisory councils of hospitals as a sustainable strategy.
The project goal is to convene, organize, and support capacity of stakeholders to become engaged in research partnerships and to facilitate relationships between stakeholders and researchers and academic institutions for research equity and impact. Objectives are to: develop a community consensus research agenda; build the knowledge and skills needed to successfully support active stakeholder participation; organize and formalize a community research network; and identify, recruit, and mentor junior academic researchers of color.
The team will conduct broad-based educational workshops, training seminars, forums, and annual conferences as in its past engagement award. Building community capacity includes: training to develop research literacy and facility; conduct peer-to-peer learning in an established mutual learning community; conduct research readiness assessments; and identify and provide technical and financial assistance to promising partnerships.
The long-term outcome is a stakeholder-driven process focused on: vetting research through a community process; creating structures to address the power imbalance between communities and institutions; and developing a cadre of trained and knowledgeable stakeholders who are prepared to serve on IRBs and PFACs.
This will be a stakeholder-led engagement process that will include the development of learning materials and modules; group learning activities; facilitating training; and process and outcomes evaluation.
CCHERS is a community–academic partnership comprised of Boston Medical Center, Boston Public Health Commission, Boston University School of Medicine, Northeastern University Bouvé College of Health Sciences, and an established primary care practice-based research network of 15 federally qualified health centers. Additional collaborators include the Elder Health Care Disparities Coalition, Black Ministerial Alliance, Women of Courage, Action for Boston Community Development, and Brigham and Women’s Hospital.