Assessing Community Health Priorities and Perceptions about Health Research: A Foundation for a Community-Engaged Research Program

Pearl A. McElfish, Christopher R. Long, R. Michael Stephens, Nicola Spencer, Brett Rowland, Horace Spencer, M. Kathryn Stewart


We performed this study to better understand communities’ health priorities and willingness to participate in research in order to reduce health disparities. To include communities whose members often experience health disparities and may lack opportunities to participate in research, student interns from multiple disciplines administered the Sentinel Network’s 33-item survey in nontraditional locations. The survey was completed by 3,151 respondents. The five most frequently identified health concerns were diabetes, cancer, hypertension, heart problems, and weight. Concerns varied by race/ethnicity. In general, respondents across all races/ethnicities—especially Pacific Islanders—expressed willingness to participate in research. The study demonstrates the effectiveness of this method for identifying health priorities and willingness to participate in research. The results illustrate minority communities’ willingness to participate in research if provided the opportunity. Insights gained from this study are informing current and planned community-engaged research to reduce health disparities among minority communities. 


community-based participatory research; community-engaged research; health disparities; minority health; service-learning

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