Sharing research findings with community members is a vital component of community-based participatory research (CBPR) for several reasons. First, community members deserve access to the knowledge they have made possible through participation or other forms of engagement in a study. Second, community dissemination creates opportunities to explore the implications of research findings from a local perspective. Third, dissemination allows providers to implement findings immediately and locally, potentially reducing the gap between research and practice. Finally, by fostering dialogue with those most affected by a given health issue, community dissemination aids in developing culturally relevant interventions.
Involving community members in discussions about new findings is particularly crucial for addressing health disparities. Those who work with or are members of a target population can shed light on factors that need to be addressed; without such input interventions may be ineffective. For example, although research has identified culturally specific determinants of treatment adherence among black people living with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), interventions to improve adherence have rarely been tailored for this population; this lack of tailoring may account for the comparatively weak effects found in adherence intervention trials that have a substantial number of black participants. Unless health care providers and other community members are engaged in collaborative partnerships to generate insights about research findings, opportunities to render interventions responsive to culturally specific determinants may be missed.
To foster partnerships, community dissemination should involve “a two-way dialogue, not a one-way flow of information”. Two-way dissemination enables community interpretations of findings to be integrated as part of an iterative research process, and it is more likely to influence health care practice than unidirectional dissemination. However, the CBPR dissemination literature primarily emphasizes passive, unidirectional dissemination strategies (eg, press releases, policy briefs, newsletters, websites). Apart from brief allusions to workshops with community members, scant literature examines how to implement community dissemination as a two-way dialogue or address its challenges, which may include translating research terminology into lay language, and — when findings focus on historically marginalized communities — how to discuss research in ways that are sensitive to mistrust and concerns about being stigmatized.
This article presents lessons learned from implementing community dissemination through a series of interactive community presentations. We discuss strategies for facilitating two-way dialogue and developing trust with communities to strengthen partnerships, gain a better understanding of findings, and explore implications for culturally relevant interventions and public policy.
Read the full article: McDavitt B, Bogart LM, Mutchler MG, Wagner GJ, Green HD Jr, Lawrence SJ, et al. Dissemination as Dialogue: Building Trust and Sharing Research Findings Through Community Engagement. Prev Chronic Dis 2016;13:150473.