ImS Online Course: Community-Engaged Research

Course Overview

Community-Engaged Research will provide training in the theory and practice of engaging patients, members of the public, and community-based organizations in health research, intervention design and implementation.

The course will introduce students to multiple engagement strategies by way of a readings, guest speakers, case studies, and online discussions. Students will gain practical skills needed to apply participatory research methods to existing or planned studies and implementation projects, and adapt health interventions to real-world contexts.

Course materials will also help students to situate concepts and practices of community engagement in historical, social and political contexts, and to critically evaluate the ways that engagement strategies shape the production of new knowledge and challenge the lay/expert distinction.

At the end of the course, students will be able to:

  • Describe different approaches to engaging patients, the public, and community-based organizations in health research, intervention design and implementation.
  • Understand how engagement strategies are situated in historical, social and political contexts.
  • Critically evaluate the benefits and limitations of different engagement methods in specific contexts.
  • Explain how engagement principles and strategies can influence research design, intervention development, data collection and evaluation activities, and implementation.
  • Identify a range of potential community partners.
  • Develop and justify a conceptual model and detailed plan for incorporating a community partnership into an existing or planned research or implementation project.

Clinicians, public health practitioners and researchers wishing to gain knowledge and skills in collaborating with patients, community members, community-based organizations and other stakeholders on research, intervention design and implementation.

Training or experience in public health, epidemiology, quality improvement or health care organization leadership. Exceptions for these prerequisites may be made with the consent of the course director.

Required Textbooks/Materials
Required readings will be posted on the course website.

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Course Requirements

Trainees are expected to watch all assigned videos; complete assigned readings; complete homework assignments; constructively critique other students’ work via online forums; submit a final project; and complete course evaluations. Homework assignments will be oriented toward the practical application of course content and development of a community engagement plan.

Students will submit a 3-5 page plan for a research project or health program that applies one or more participatory research strategies and principles.

Completing this course will take an estimated 6-8 hours of work per module.

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Course Director:

Sara Ackerman, PhD, MPH is Assistant Professor in the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences and an assistant director of the UCSF Training Program in Implementation Science. She received an MPH in health behavior and health education and PhD in medical anthropology at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Dr. Ackerman is currently conducting research on the social and ethical dimensions of genomic testing for people with late stage cancer. She also collaborates on several health services research projects, where she specializes in using ethnography and other stakeholder engagement strategies to understand the implementation and impact of health information technologies and other interventions that transform clinical practice.

Lecturers and Guest Speakers:

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