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URMC / Clinical & Translational Science Institute / Stories / February 2018 / UR CTSI-led Study Helps Assess Community Engagement

UR CTSI-led Study Helps Assess Community Engagement

Doctor shaking woman's handResearchers at the University of Rochester Clinical and Translational Science Institute have created a two phase assessment process to help academic health centers map, track, and bolster their community engagement efforts. Teams at several institutions piloted the process and reported that it was easy to adapt to their individual needs and helped them identify gaps in their resources for community engagement.   

As health care shifts from traditional disease treatment models to broader population health approaches, is imperative that research teams engage with communities to understand their needs and develop projects that will address issues affecting their well-being. While community engagement is increasingly important, academic health centers struggle to demonstrate the effectiveness of their community-engaged activities.

The UR CTSI pilot study was led by Karen Vitale, network coordinator in the Center for Community Health and Prevention, and Gail Newton, former director of Community Health Partnerships at the University of Rochester Medical Center. The pair recruited seven other academic health centers to assemble community engagement-savvy teams and test out the tool, which includes two self-assessment surveys.

The Institutional Community Engagement (ICE) Self-Assessment, which was developed at UR CTSI, helps institutions map their community engagement activities by structure, process, and outcome measures. This assessment helps put each institution’s community engagement activities into context and creates baseline for tracking their progress over time.

The Community-Campus Partnerships for Health (CCPH) Self-Assessment identifies existing resources for community engagement. Institutions evaluate the level of commitment to community engagement of their leadership, faculty, students, and community. It also assesses the institution’s capacity for community engagement scholarship and identifies opportunities for action. 

Almost all of the participating health centers identified shortcomings in their community engagement strategies, including inadequate promotion and use of existing resources and prioritizing institutional needs over community needs. All eight institutions plan to improve their community engagement efforts based on the survey results.

Some teams had difficulty ensuring they had captured all community engagement activities and faculty across their institutions, highlighting an important resource gap. At the time of follow up, senior leadership at one institution already had plans in motion to create an online system to better track their community engagement activities.

The UR CTSI team also got some helpful feedback on the ICE Self-Assessment and will continue to refine that tool to make it clearer and easier to use. 

If you are interested in using the Community Engagement Assessment tool at your institution, contact Karen Vitale.

Read the full study.


This project was supported by the Clinical and Translational Science Awards Program of the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences of the National Institutes of Health through the following awards: University of Rochester UL1 TR000042 University at Buffalo 1UL1 TR00141201, Columbia University UL1 TR000040, Medical College of Wisconsin 8UL1 TR000055, University of Wisconsin-Madison UL1 TR000427, Stanford University School of Medicine UL1 TR001085, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences UL1 TR000039, and University of Minnesota UL1 TR00001114.  

Michael Hazard | 2/6/2018

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