Reporting Research Findings

Research recommended by PECaD’s Disparities Elimination Advisory Committee (DEAC)revealed that community members and leaders want to know the findings of research conducted locally. To address this need, PECaD collaborated with the Institute of Clinical and Translational Sciences’ Center for Community-Based Research at Washington University in 2009 on a project to create a replicable model for sharing research findings with diverse community audiences.

This project grew out of longstanding relationships. Key partners included the DEAC, the St. Louis American Foundation, and researchers at Washington University and Saint Louis University.

The inaugural conference of the Washington University Institute for Public Health was the source for our initial poster presentations. Because the conference included a poster session on community-based research, there was a rich array of material already in display format that would be of possible interest to community members. Poster topics ranged from distrust of research to sickle cell disease, autism, childhood weight gain, community gardens, breast cancer outreach and more. After ranking and selection by a community and academic review panel, 10 posters were edited and reformatted to make them more appropriate for a general audience.

In partnership with the St. Louis American Foundation, our initial community report-back poster display was prepared for the foundation’s Annual Salute to Excellence in Health Care event. The audience for this event is predominantly African-American, and the event typically draws 300 to 400 community members and health-care leaders from the region. At the event, representatives from poster research teams were present to answer questions. We also asked those viewing the posters to fill out a brief survey to inform future report-back initiatives and to assess impact on attitudes towards research.

Future initiatives will focus on collaborating with organizations that reach a broader cross section of the St. Louis community. We continue to expand this effort by exploring innovative approaches to framing research summaries in ways that are meaningful and relevant to nonscientists. Key lessons learned from this initiative are:

  • Multiple audiences need and want to learn about research findings
  • Responding to community-identified concerns and researching topics that are relevant to the community is important
  • Longstanding partnerships and relationships also are important for developing novel approaches to disseminating research findings
  • Collaborative decision-making between academic and community partners improves reach