Defining and measuring community engagement and community-engaged research: Clinical and translational science institutional practices

Milton Eder, Eunbyul Evans, Melanie Funes, Hui Hong, Katja Reuter, Syed Ahmed, Karen Calhoun, Giselle Corbie-Smith, Gaurav Dave, Mia Defino, Eileen M Harwood, Anne Kissack, Lawrence C. Kleinman, Nina Wallerstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Background: The institutions that comprise the Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA) consortium and the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences continue to explore and develop community-engaged research strategies and to study the role of community academic partnerships in advancing the science of community engagement. Objectives: To explore CTSA institutions in relation to an Institute of Medicine recommendation that community engagement occur in all stages of translational research and be defined and evaluated consistently. Methods: A sequential multimethods study starting with an online pilot survey followed by survey respondents and site informant interviews. A revised survey was sent to the community engagement and evaluation leads at each CTSA institution, requesting a single institutional response about the definitions, indicators, and metrics of community engagement and community-engaged research. Results: A plurality of CTSA institutions selected the definition of community engagement from the Principles of Community Engagement. Although claiming unique institutional priorities create barriers to developing shared metrics, responses indicate an overall lack of attention to the development and deployment of metrics to assess community engagement in and contributions to research. Conclusions: Although definitions of community engagement differ among CTSAs, there seem to be more similarities than differences in the indicators and measures tracked and reported on across all definitions, perhaps owing to commonalities among program infrastructures and goals. Metrics will likely need to be specific to translational research stages. The assessment of community engagement within translational science will require increased institutional commitment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)145-156
Number of pages12
JournalProgress in Community Health Partnerships: Research, Education, and Action
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1 2018

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study received no direct funding. The authors were provided partial salary support through the following grants: NIH National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences. Grant Numbers: UL1TR000114, UL1TR000130, UL1TR000055, UL1TR000443, UL1TR001111, UL1TR002240, UL1RR029887 and UL1TR000041; NIH National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Grant Number: K24HL105493; Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. Grant Number: U18HS020518; Native American Research Centers for Health (NARCH V): Grant Numbers: U261HS300293 and U261IHS0036-04-00 (funded by Indian Health Service, National Institute of General Medical Sciences, Health Resources Services Administration, National Cancer Institute, National Center for Research Resources, National Institute of Drug Abuse, National Institute of Minority Health and Health Disparities, and Office of Behavioral Social Sciences Research).The authors thank all the key site informants for responding to the surveys. The authors thank Meryl Sufian, Division of Clinical Innovation, National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences, National Institutes of Health, and Adina Black (Research Assistant), North Carolina Translational and Clinical Sciences Institute, UNC Chapel Hill, for their encouragement and contributions to this project.


  • Clinical and translational science
  • Community engagement
  • Community health partnerships
  • Community-based participatory research
  • Metrics and outcomes
  • Outcomes research evaluation

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