Community Engagement

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What Is Community Engagement (CE)?

Community engagement (CE) seeks to build meaningful partnerships between researchers and communities affected by research. This helps to give communities a voice in decisions about research and helps to make research more responsive to their needs. When done well, CE leads to researchers, communities, and other partners sharing important knowledge, information, and resources.

WRAIR’s CE Program

WRAIR has a long history of support for CE through its international research network. In October 2020, WRAIR launched a new CE program in Silver Spring, MD, under the Emerging Infectious Diseases Branch. Its first CE program in the Washington, D.C. area, WRAIR's effort aims to connect with local communities most impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Building mutual trust and understanding with these communities will give them a voice in WRAIR’s COVID-19 research and will improve its quality.

Goals

WRAIR’s CE program has five core goals:

  • Goal 1: Improve community knowledge of WRAIR COVID-19 research and its impacts.
  • Goal 2: Improve WRAIR researcher knowledge of community needs and values, with focus on groups impacted by COVID-19.
  • Goal 3: Involve community in design and conduct of WRAIR COVID-19 research.
  • Goal 4: Improve overall trust in clinical research, with focus on COVID-19 research.
  • Goal 5: Support recruitment of diverse groups in WRAIR COVID-19 research.

Activities

WRAIR’s CE program is engaged in the following activities:

Information Gathering

The CE program is learning about community needs and values related to the COVID-19 pandemic and research. Activities include focus groups, listening sessions, on-the-street interviews, photo-voice projects, and conversations with experts and local leaders.

Community Advisory Board

The Community Advisory Board (CAB) gives the community direct input into WRAIR’S COVID-19 research and builds relationships between WRAIR and local communities. CAB members meet monthly to discuss issues related to COVID-19 science and new research. They provide views from diverse groups interested in the conduct and outcomes of COVID-19 research.

Outreach and Education

The CE program works with local groups to provide education about COVID-19, COVID-19 vaccines, and vaccine research to the community. WRAIR’s Science Education program is developing teaching sessions at area historically black colleges and universities about why minority representation in COVID-19 research matters. The CE program also provides workshops to local healthcare workers and community organizations.

Contact

The CE program is seeking partner organizations in the Washington, D.C. area that serve communities affected by COVID-19 or who have an interest in COVID-19 research. To learn more about partnerships or WRAIR’s CE activities, please email us at community@eidresearch.org