Introduction to a different brand of Community Research efforts by OHSU in Oregon

by Paige Farris

Oregon Health & Science University is the state’s only academic health center; providing education, research and service to the whole of Oregon – taking pride in engaging with communities throughout all of 96,000 square miles!


Community Research Coalitions

The Integrated Program in Community Research was formed in 2015; we are leading a groundswell of interest and efforts toward supporting data-driven decision making endeavors at the community level. Specifically, OHSU staff in Central Oregon at the Community Research Hub office are working directly with communities throughout the state in the development and ongoing support of regional Research Coalitions. Each Coalition – Central Oregon, North Coast, South Coast and in Southern Oregon – is designed with input and direction by local health and wellness stakeholders in order to meet the stated needs of the communities. Research Coalitions are specifically formed around community-identified needs addressing health priorities and using data to better inform decisions around the improvement of health. By developing Research Coalitions in this manner, OHSU acts in the role of equal partner; we do not impose our own agenda on the region, rather, we collaborate around strengthening research and data-driven decision making efforts.


Research Coalition Community Liaisons

The Integrated Program in Community Research, in collaboration with OHSU’s Oregon Clinical and Translational Research Institute’s Community Program (a Clinical and Translational Research Award), employ a Community Liaison in each region. The Community Liaison lives in the region and is meant to be familiar with regional research efforts and needs in order to best align research support services (evaluation, project design, biostatistics, human subjects’ protection) that may not otherwise be available to or within the community.


Partnership with Coordinated Care Organizations (CCOs) and Regional Health Councils; Assisting Grant Applicants

An example of this type of partnership is happening right now in Central Oregon. The CCO’s Central Oregon Health Council has asked the Central Oregon Research Coalition to act in the role of evaluation consultants in support of applicants to their Regional Health Improvement Plan funding mechanism. Our evaluators and human subjects’ protection team review applicant materials and talk with applicants to learn about what is being proposed, assess feasibility and assist with identifying evaluation metrics if needed, based on their stated objectives.


Our goal is to help community researchers collect data appropriate for meeting their outcomes as well as plan for evaluation while community researchers are in the midst of developing a project rather than in the middle or end of a project …as an almost-too-late afterthought.


We have greatly enjoyed learning about each community partner’s project; their organization’s priorities and foci. This opportunity has been a great way to continue learning about the region in which we live!


Ultimately, we approach every contact with community partners as a teaching opportunity; why we care about human subjects’ protection; what is an evaluation plan; what type of data do we need in order to meet your stated goals, etc.


We are committed to interacting and partnering with our communities throughout the state differently; not just as an academic institution but as a partner interested in increasing Oregon communities’ capacity to think critically about their local health and wellness concerns.