The Boston University’s Clinical and Translational Science Institute (BU CTSI) Community Engagement division’s goal is to build the capacity of researchers from throughout the Boston University Medical Campus and the Boston HealthNet community health centers (CHCs) to design and conduct scientifically valid clinical research on priority populations in the CHC’s.
Boston HealthNet Community Engagement and Community Advisory Board’s, which is broadly representative of stakeholders in the CHCs, mission is “to mobilize the community to identify research and public health needs and priorities and establish dialogue with the research community.” At the request of the Boston HealthNet Board of Directors in 2005, A Research Subcommittee was founded to individually review all research projects that will take place at any of the Boston HealthNet Community Health Centers. Through Boston HealthNet, the affiliated CHCs will have access to the wealth of research resources available on the Boston University Medical Campus, including, but not limited to, academic expertise in the full spectrum of medical and mental health disciplines; behavioral medicine; biostatistics; clinical epidemiology; research design and analysis; and protection of human subjects, including protocol review and data and safety monitoring. Further building on engaging our community through the health centers, in June 2010 HRSA funded a grant in the amount of $2.9M that will construct usable databases for research through a patient registry and a data warehouse.
Training will be provided for the Affiliates to implement study protocols; a data acquisition system to collect intake, treatment and outcome data for study participants, according to research protocols; and additional support, such as quality control and monitoring, to ensure the successful completion of the scientific goals of a research project.
The goals of community engagement are to:
- Facilitate recruitment of research participants
- Engage community providers
- Engage the community in setting research priorities
- Engage community members in partnerships and collaborations
- Educate researchers and trainees about the importance of community engagement
- Engage community members in CTSI Institute training activities
Community engagement efforts build on successful models of community-campus partnerships. Examples of community engagement efforts include:
- Community-based research programs led by BU CTSI function leader of community engagement.
- Partners in Health and Housing-Prevention Research Center (PHH-PRC), supported by the CDC, which focuses on health promotion in Boston public housing through the use of peer resident health advocates. The RHA training combines leadership and skill-building workshops with health education. Program graduates are then hired by the Boston Housing Authority (BHA) to provide their fellow residents with information and resources about local health services
- Assessing effectiveness of RHAs in increasing participation of public housing residents in health screening and receipt of clinical follow-up care for diabetes, hypertension and dental disease by increased utilization of “Healthy Connection,” Boston’s public health mobile van..
- The NCI MB-CCOP (minority-based community clinical oncology program) award has served as a vehicle to engage our community physicians from our health centers to work with our BMC cancer support services through a patient navigator model. Lay navigators (partially supported by the grant) are deployed at 5 CHCs and have direct communication with lay and nurse navigators at BMC. Patients who are potentially eligible and interested in a specific trial through the lay navigator are introduced to the Research Nurse Navigator coordinating the study of interest.
- Readiness funding was provided by CTSI Community Engagement to a research group led by Tracy Battaglia and they have collected data on several aspects of care delivery in 11 CHCs from the Boston HealthNet network as a first step toward finding research and clinical opportunities to improve the health care for poor and underserved patients in these health centers. The group assessed the readiness of these selected health centers to engage in health promotion and research activities with neighborhood residents, and then measured their barriers and supports for conducting these activities with individuals living in the health center neighborhoods.
- BHN Research Subcommittee has approved 9 projects in 2011, one of which was NIH funded. This makes a total of 104 projects since its inception in 2005.
- The two year Boston HealthNet “Integrated Databases and Electronic Alerts in Standardized Systems” (IDEAS) Grant ($2.99 million over two years) from Health Resources Services Administration (HRSA Grant Award No. H2LCS18160) will provide data warehousing and registry development. Francis Doyle is the current PI. The work will be completed on both the data warehouse and the registry by late 2012.
Learn about the many community engagement efforts in our region:
Black Women’s Health Study
Boston Center for Refugee Health and Human Rights
Boston University Area Health Education Center
Boston University School of Public Health Practice
Northeast Center for Research to Evaluate & Eliminate Dental Disparities
Community Health Centers
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