09 Apr New ITHS Program: Community Voices
ITHS is extremely proud to see the Community Voices program launch in 2020. This new program grew from collaborative work with the Fred Hutch Health Communication Research Center and was specifically created to bridge the gap between community members and researchers. It is part of the ITHS Community Engagement Program, which facilitates community-academic research partnerships in the WWAMI region in an effort to increase community involvement in every stage of research.
“The Community Voices program addresses a number of obstacles for both communities and researchers and opens windows to promote health equity,” shared Linda Ko, Community Voices’ faculty lead. One obstacle this program is now addressing is that community members are often not invited to join a research team until later in the project, giving the community members limited opportunities to provide formative input on project development and the health issue under study. Another obstacle reported by researchers is the extensive time and effort needed to engage a new community and for the community to be ready to partner on a research project. With the Community Voices program now in place, these obstacles have been carefully taken into consideration.
The Community Voices program addresses a number of obstacles for both communities and researchers and opens windows to promote health equity
The Community Voices program matches communities and researchers with an aligned interest so that they can combine forces to conduct research where the ideas come from the community. This connection enables researchers to save time in identifying prospective community partners. Communities also benefit from the partnership by being able to strengthen the scientific rigor of their projects and implement evidence-based practices to improve community health. “It’s a win-win for both groups,” Ko concluded.
Community members are now able to submit a request through their new webpage. The coordinating center will be responsible to manage the in-take process and work with both community representatives and researchers to help establish the project and provide guidance from beginning to end.
First Project in 2020
Earlier this year, the Community Voices team responded to a request submitted by El Centro de la Raza in Seattle to help connect them with researchers who can assist with the development of a robust community needs assessment (CNA) plan. The plan and data collection tools are to inform the organizational priorities for programs and services of 7 cities in south King County. The CNA is a detailed research study that collects and analyses data concerning the immediate needs for these primarily Latinx communities.
Matching communities with the expertise they need to address their specific health concerns is key to the success of Community Voices.
“This study uses a community-based participatory research approach, engaging community members as leaders in planning and implementing the study. A rigorous academic structure to the process is vital, as the resulting data will be distributed to government agencies, school districts, and other institutions representing the most up to date, accurate and verifiable data source on Latino needs in south King County,” shared Estela Ortega, Executive Director of El Centro de la Raza. Matching communities with the expertise they need to address their specific health concerns is key to the success of Community Voices. “The El Centro de la Raza project has already been extremely important to the launch of Community Voices and is helping us improve our procedures, communications and services,” said Laurie Hassell, ITHS Director of Community Engagement.
The El Centro de la Raza project has already been extremely important to the launch of Community Voices and is helping us improve our procedures, communications and services
“Facilitating community-academic research partnerships to address high-priority community health needs enables translation of research discoveries for the benefit of community health,” said ITHS Principal Investigator, Nora Disis. “This aligns well with the mission of the ITHS and we are excited to hear more of the projects that will come through Community Voices this year.”