Help Us Learn More About Community-Engaged Health Research at Penn State

The Community-Engaged Research Core of the Clinical and Translational Science Institute is conducting an inventory in May 2017 to learn more about community-engaged health research (CEHR) across the Penn State system.

What do we need from you? 
If you are involved in CEHR or know of projects or investigators/staff who are, please let us know by completing the short form found here .When you alert us about efforts that may fit the working definition, our team will look for any publicly available information about the work. When needed, we will contact you to request additional materials or a short phone conversation with someone directly involved in the work to learn more about it.

What is the purpose of this effort? 
The overall goal of this inventory is to help Penn State identify and develop ways to promote and support CEHR.
Specifically, we will identify CEHR happening at Penn State to:

  • Understand the types and depth of CEHR taking place throughout the University
  • Identify people across the University who are leaders in this type of work and the tools/approaches they have found to be effective
  • Develop a University-wide definition of CEHR, and promote the importance of CEHR

What do we mean by community-engaged health research?
Our definition of CEHR is health research that is based in communities, serves the needs of communities, directly involves community participants, and is conducted through partnerships between Penn State investigators and community members. 

What do we mean by health research?
We define “health research” as any research that relates to human health and well-being or the structure, process, or outcomes of health services. Included in our definition: medical/clinical, wellness/prevention, physical/mental/behavioral/psychosocial health, public health, population health, health services research and health-related quality improvement work that involves a formal evaluation research component.

We define “research” as systematic investigations intended to be widely disseminated and contribute to the general knowledge base. While important, studies conducted for ‘local’ use only (e.g., a survey of community members health concerns for use in a community health partnership; adaptation of an evidence-based intervention into a new cultural context) fall outside the scope of this initial work.

What do we mean by community?
“Community” can be defined in many different ways, including geographically defined areas and population subgroups as well as stakeholder and identity groups (e.g. health care providers, industry groups, public health agencies, patients and groups, and community organizations). Accordingly, patient-engaged research falls squarely within our definition of CEHR.

How can I tell if the work I am thinking of fits the definition of CEHR?
If you answer “Yes” to both of the following questions, it is safe to assume that your research fits into the scope of this work:

  • Are there people/groups/organizations from the public involved in the research process?
  • Do the roles of the public participants include involvement and input in one or more research processes (e.g. research project idea development or feedback, research project design, data collection, data analysis, development of research findings and products, dissemination of findings)?

Note: Although a large number of health-related studies involve members of the public as “research subjects” or respondents, if the role of the public stops there, we consider this “community-placed research” not “community-engaged research.”

What if I am still not sure if the work I do or know about fits the working definition?
When in doubt, please do not hesitate to contact us to share information about the work in question. We anticipate that we will further refine our definition of community-engaged health research based on what we learn through this process.

What about other types of community engagement?
We recognize that Community-University engagement happens in many ways throughout the Penn State system (e.g. service learning; forms of engaged scholarship that do not involve research; community-engaged research in education, the arts and other fields). We will not be capturing information about all types of community engagement; however, we will make notes about efforts we learn of that fall outside of our CEHR definition.

CTSI Community-Engaged Research Core Co-Chairs 
Jennifer Kraschnewski, M.D., M.P.H.
Associate Professor, Medicine, Pediatrics, Public Health Sciences

Martha Wadsworth, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Psychology