Increasing Research Literacy in Minority Communities

CARES Fellows Training Program

With a 56 percent increase in its non-White population (1990–2000), Long Island, N.Y., is becoming more diverse—but not more integrated. Blacks and Hispanics on Long Island tend to live in segregated communities where there is poor access to health care services.

Community-based participatory research (CBPR), which provides a link between research and practice, has the potential to reduce health disparities that accompany segregation. To engage the community in CBPR, the Center for Public Health & Health Policy Research (CPHHPR) at Stony Brook University held three mini-summits on minority health. When community members expressed hesitancy to participate further in a university-community partnership without formal research training, the Community Alliance for Research Empowering Social Change (CARES) training program was formed.

Some 13 people completed the training, which consisted of 11 didactic training sessions and four experiential workshops. Participants were encouraged to apply their knowledge to develop their own pilot projects; 10 did.

“The results of the CARES program, particularly the process of applying for a CBPR grant,” the authors write, “suggest that comprehensive evidence-based public health research training can prepare community members for collaborative work with academic researchers and empower them to utilize research to create social change in their communities.”