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Engaging Communities in Research

To ensure community engagement in the research process, it is crucial for research institutions to collaborate with community organizations to identify and understand community health needs. Through the CTSA program, NCATS has facilitated a broad range of programs that engage communities in dialogue about their health concerns and about clinical research. Partnering with federal and nonprofit agencies, CTSA institutions collaborate with public health professionals, health care providers, researchers and community-based groups to do the following: 

  • Develop methods of effective community dialogue and research. 
  • Ensure that updated health information is widely available.
  • Provide information and access to clinical trials and studies. 

Building Community Trust and Increasing Research Participation 

To achieve successful community engagement, partnerships are built on respect and trust. CTSA Consortium members value the role of community participation in translating research results into new treatments to improve health, especially in underserved communities. 

Collaborating to Meet Community Needs 

CTSA-supported staff conduct their research and outreach efforts through neighborhood service and community centers, as well as in mobile units. Projects include education, prevention and management of a variety of conditions, including obesity, high blood pressure (hypertension), type 2 diabetes, dental disorders and drug addiction. Through two-way dialogue, community members provide their input on clinical studies and health programs by serving on advisory boards to CTSA institutions. 


The Washington University Institute of Clinical and Translational Science created HealthStreet, a community-based service center in the Southeast neighborhood of St. Louis, to provide residents with opportunities to learn about medical research, register in research studies, obtain free testing for sexually transmitted diseases, and learn about and apply for jobs. At HealthStreet, community health workers establish relationships with neighborhood residents to learn about their health concerns.

Left to right: Samuel Klein, Van Carter and Jennifer McCrea

Samuel Klein, M.D., professor of medicine, and Jennifer McCrea, research coordinator, offer health and nutrition tips to 10-year-old Van Carter at the Adams Park Elementary School Wellness Fair. Dr. Klein will be the director of the CTSA Clinical Interactions Resources Core at the Washington University Institute of Clinical and Translational Sciences.

Principles of Community Engagement, 2nd Edition

Principles of Community Engagement (Second Edition)