Project Summary

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Background: The COVID-19 pandemic has greatly affected underserved urban communities; even groups that have strong relationships with these communities are facing challenges with outreach and engagement. The ability to develop meaningful research partnerships with underserved communities is vital for ensuring the relevance and application of future PCOR/CER and dissemination of study findings and outcomes. Strategies for engagement of underserved communities need to be revisited to address issues associated with the impact of COVID-19.

Proposed Solution to the Problem: IPFCC is partnering with Smart from the Start, a multigenerational family support and community engagement organization that works with underserved communities in Boston and Washington, DC, in order to learn directly from members of underserved communities about challenges created by COVID-19 that must be addressed to facilitate partnership in PCOR/CER and develop tools and resources that provide solutions.


  • Identify challenges to engaging urban underserved populations in PCOR/CER during the time of COVID-19
  • Develop guidance for creating meaningful partnerships between PCOR/CER researchers and underserved communities that address accommodations needed due to COVID-19
  • Develop the capacity of leaders from underserved urban communities to partner in planning, conducting, and disseminating PCOR/CER


  • Create a project advisory committee and Family Leader workgroup to guide all tasks
  • Conduct virtual focus groups with Family Leaders in underserved communities in Boston and Washington, DC
  • Conduct interviews to learn from community organizations that have adapted engagement and outreach methods in the context of COVID-19
  • Develop tools and resources to facilitate partnerships between PCOR/CER researchers, community-based organizations, and community leaders that address new challenges and opportunities associated with COVID-19
  • Disseminate project resources and conduct a webinar for Smart from the Start Family Leaders and community members about project learnings and opportunities for partnering in PCOR/CER

Projected Outcomes: The outcomes of this project will be a set of tools/resources that contain strategies for engaging low-income urban communities in PCOR/CER in the context of COVID-19. The project team also will develop the capacity of Family Leaders in Boston and Washington, DC to participate in future PCOR/CER and facilitate connections between researchers and their communities. As a secondary outcome, the team anticipates learning more about the priorities and concerns of underserved urban communities with regard to COVID-19, providing information that can be used to shape future research questions.

Patient and Stakeholder Engagement Plan: IPFCC’s partnership in this project with Smart from the Start ensures the meaningful and active engagement of individuals from underserved urban communities across all project phases. Smart from the Start’s Executive Director will serve as co-lead for the project and three staff members will serve on the project team. The team will engage Smart from the Start Family Leaders as project advisory committee members and in a Family Leader workgroup. Family Leaders are individuals living in underserved neighborhoods who have completed two years of training on program and community leadership, health advocacy, and child development/child advocacy.

Project Information

Marie Abraham, MA
Institute for Patient and Family Centered Care

Key Dates

16 months


State State The state where the project originates, or where the primary institution or organization is located. View Glossary
Last updated: November 10, 2022