Improving health outcomes for all and bridging the gap in health equity requires a concerted effort among all major stakeholders. To do this effectively WE-CARE uses a 360-degree community engagement model that maximizes the efforts of all involved.
Some major components of our program are:
- Advisory Board - established to advocate for and oversee research activities within various minority and medically underserved communities and sustain the WE-CARE program through oversight of all major activities and building partnerships locally and nationally. The Advisory Board serves to: 1) Strengthen the relationship of the research institutions with the community; 2) Provide oversight, protection, and advocacy of community participants involved in clinical and translational research activities performed by academic and clinical institutions; 3) Create and enhance clinical trial opportunities for underrepresented communities; 4) Empower underrepresented communities with decision-making opportunities concerning research activities that involve their members; and 5) Enhance and expand trust between academic and clinical institutions and the communities that they serve.
- Community-led Research Review Committee (RRC) - an extension of the Advisory Board consisting of 5-7 community members that serve as gate keepers to the community at large. The committee periodically convenes to hear presentations from researchers regarding study design, goals, and benefits, and lend a community perspective to ongoing research by bringing considerations such as culture, equality and language used to the researcher’s attention. To achieve the specific aim of connecting community members to researchers, the RRC interfaces directly with researchers to assist and augment the researchers’ efforts to recruit research participants from local communities. Through a defined process, researchers submit information about their proposed research for the RRC to review. After this initial review, researchers are invited to present their intended research proposal to and answer questions from the RRC. Guidelines and training are provided to the RRC with the goal of assisting researchers’ efforts to enhance enrollment of participants into their various research programs. Our current committee includes community members, nonprofit leaders, and national public health leaders. They help assess the merit of the research before WE-CARE promotes the studies to its minority community partners, and provides insights to the Advisory Board regarding best practices for researchers.
- Community Network of faith based and community based organizations and “community ambassadors” who assist with outreach. This group helps raise awareness about the value and benefit of participating in research and assists with disseminating information about current research studies and clinical trials seeking minority participants. They also work to help guide the WE-CARE Advisory Board on how best to address barriers to participation in research.
- Researcher Network consisting of clinical and basic science researchers, division chiefs, clinical faculty, and key research administrators within the University of South Florida, Moffitt Cancer Center, and the James A Haley VA Hospital. This group participates in community matchmaking events – providing input on the research process and benefit to community members – and helps promote the benefits of the WE-CARE program among research colleagues.
- Community Engagement through partnerships with national programs such as 50 Hoops, who coordinate community advocacy matchmaking events that serve as forums for community members, researchers, clinicians and local leaders to discuss health equity topics and exchange ideas and solutions.