The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention define community engagement as "the process of working collaboratively with and through groups of people affiliated by geographic proximity, special interest, or similar situations to address issues affecting the wellbeing of those people." Community-engaged research (CEnR) is a collaborative process between researchers and those groups in a community who share design, decision-making, result interpretation, and the drawing of conclusions with the goal of addressing local health issues, influencing systems, policies, programs or practice, etc. In essense, instead of research being conducted "on" a population, it's research conducted "with" a population.
The Harvard Catalyst Regulatory Knowledge and Support program and the Community Health Innovation and Research program have partnered to develop resources to support community-engaged research.
The Harvard Catalyst Community-Engaged Research Subcommittee (CEnR) brings together expertise from Harvard Catalyst partnering institutions and community leaders to build research partnerships with community organizations, investigators, and research participants with the goal of educating both researchers and community members, enabling compliance, and collaborating around issues related to regulatory compliance. Learn more on the CEnR How We Work page.
In addition, Community-Based Participatory Research Consulting is available as is the Community Health Innovation and Research Program (HC-CHIRP), which offers advice and training to Harvard researchers and community organizations seeking to conduct research in community settings.
Other resources that researchers may find useful, include:
Research Participant Education Materials
Harvard Catalyst has created a variety of Research Participant Brochures
(available in more than 15 languages) that provide useful information to prospective participants on a range of research topics, including:
- Should I be a research subject?
- Research Subject Bill of Rights
- Social and Behavioral Research
- CT Scans for Research
- MRI Scans for Research
- PET Scans for Research
- Surrogate Decision-Making in Health Research
Researchers are encouraged to review the brochures and consider providing them to prospective study participants. The brochures can be downloaded and printed free of charge. The IRB office has some printed copies available for distribution; please contact the firstname.lastname@example.org
for more information.
Human Subject Training for Community Partners
As community partners are an important constituency, CHA and the Harvard Catalyst CEnR subcommittee developed research education and training materials and guides about human research specifically for our community partners. Presentations, facilitator guides, and training assessment tools are available upon request; please contact the CHA IRB office or the Harvard Catalyst for copies and to arrange presentation of the materials.
Another education resource to assist researchers is the Community-Engaged Research (CEnR) and the Institutional Review Board: Principles, Challenges, and Opportunities presentation; it provides an overview of community-engaged research, the risks and ethical issues for CEnR, and the IRB operational challenges and solutions related to CEnR.