North Carolina AHEC Program
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Designing a Collaborative Workshop Series to Build Community Health Research Capacity

by Zoe Enga and Tiffini Canty, NC TraCS Institute Community Engagement Core

The North Carolina Translational and Clinical Sciences Institute (NC TraCS) Community Engagement Core (CEC), in collaboration with the Carolina Community Network (CCN), the Greensboro and Wake Area Health Education Centers (AHEC), and NC TraCS Dissemination Core, utilized a four-step, iterative development process to provide a seven-part capacity building workshop series from September 2009 through June 2010. Workshop attendees from target AHEC regions included community members, employees of community organizations and local health care providers, as well as faculty and staff from local universities. The slate of workshops was intended to increase the capacity of attendees to become involved in research, foster partnerships and collaboration, and ultimately improve the health of the residents of their community and the state of North Carolina.

NCTraCSWorkshop topics were selected based on community assessment, requests received from past workshop attendees and the suitability to contribute towards the development of successful research partnerships to address shared health priorities. The 2009-2010 series included Introduction to Research, Participatory Approaches to Research, Grant Writing, Program Evaluation, Communicating Health Information, Translational Research, and Evidence-Based Interventions. Workshops were four hours long and included lecture, discussion, and activities modeled on adult learning principles.

The workshop series was also evaluated to determine effectiveness by administration of a pre-test survey, a post-test survey and a three-month follow-up survey. Data from four workshops was available for analysis at the time of this writing: Participatory Approaches to Research (PA), Translational Research (TR), Program Evaluation (PE), and Grant Writing (GW). Paired t-test analyses (n=165) with PASW 18 statistical software were conducted on pre-test and post-test data to assess workshop effectiveness in increasing participants’ knowledge and self-efficacy. Self-efficacy items were measured on a 10-point Likert scale, with 1=“Not at all confident” and 10=“Very confident.”

Analysis of the evaluation data show that the series successfully increased knowledge and self-efficacy of community, clinical, and academic partners to discuss health research topics as a step towards developing future partnerships. While the series focused on community partners, there was strong interest from academicians (21%) in learning how to conduct collaborative research. Follow-up data analyses will examine whether community and clinical partners reported increased overall and topic-specific research activity as a measure of capacity-building.

The NC TraCS Community Engagement Core, in collaboration with the Dissemination Core, will expand this series to offer a 13-part workshop series from September 2010 through June 2011. The series includes all of the previous series’ workshops, and elaborates on a number of topics by providing a more in-depth follow up workshop. Workshops are free and open to participants interested in learning about how to engage in research. To learn more, please go to the NC TraCS Community Engagement Core website: From here, click on “Resources for the Community,” and “Find Learning Opportunities.” If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact us at

Funding sources:
Carolina Community Network is funded by U01CA114629
NC TraCS Institute is funded by UL1RR025747 and University Cancer Research Fund