The Tuberculosis Behavioral and Social Science Research Forum Proceedings
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Section II. Presentations and Panel Discussions
Sharpening the Focus on Turning Research into Practice: The Promise of Participatory Research Approaches
Shawna Mercer, M.Sc., Ph.D.
Health Scientist, Public Health Practice Program Office, Office of the Director, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Day 2, Afternoon Session
Dr. Mercer outlined challenges in translating research into practice and offered participatory research as an approach to addressing these challenges. The challenges include the following:
- There may be insufficient recognition of the complexities inherent in putting public health research into practice in diverse settings;
- Research findings may not be internally or externally valid; and
- Best practices may not be locally appropriate or affordable.
Participatory research is a flexible approach, rather than a set of specific methods, that may address these challenges by actively involving all stakeholders—practitioners, policy makers, and members of affected communities—in the research process from the beginning. Accordingly, it is more likely to keep communities involved and to produce locally relevant findings and implementation guidance.
The Office of Science and Extramural Research’s Extramural Prevention Research Grant Program (EPRP) solicited proposals for participatory research to develop community-based prevention strategies. EPRP funding currently supports 26 three-year grants for a total of about $11.4 million. The funded projects address a wide range of health issues including preventing obesity, tobacco use, and injuries; supporting school health; reducing health disparities; and increasing access to health care. Among these, a project on diabetes among Appalachian Hispanics seeks to develop a model approach to addressing rural health problems.