Online Program

Communities for healthy living of the capital region:A community perspective

Saturday, November 2, 2013 : 1:11 p.m. - 1:22 p.m.

Kara Gilmore, BS, Rensselaer County Historical Society, Troy, NY
Community-based participatory research (CBPR) has been employed to address health disparities by engaging multiple stakeholders in the research process. However, most often, CBPR engages community-based organization representatives who work on the ground in areas with underserved populations and social and health services professionals. Specifically, the use of CBPR in childhood obesity research is increasing, but parents, who are key stakeholders because they have direct influence over children's home environment and lifestyle choices, are still infrequently engaged (1). More typical stakeholders include school administrators, teachers, cooks, providers and other community-based professionals (2). Studies that engage parents, most often fall between Rung 3 and 5 of the Ladder of Participation in which parents provide input and are informed of study processes, often during formative of the study, but do not have decision making power. Although other studies have involved parents, there are no other known examples in which parents are engaged throughout the entire research process. Given the history of hierarchical relationships between low-income families and service or health professionals (3), engaging parents throughout the research process may serve to open communication, break down hierarchical relationships and build trust. Low-income parents are engaged as equal partners, providing unique expertise during the development, implementation and evaluation of a childhood obesity prevention initiative. The case study of Communities for Healthy Living (CHL), so named by the partnership, section of the learning institute will be a round table during which the aforementioned learning objectives will be met. Then there will be time for participants to ask questions of both parents and academics and discuss new ideas generated from sharing this parent-centered CBPR case study that engaged parents directly throughout the entire research process with the goal of fostering parent empowerment and encouraging co-learning across all stakeholders (4).

The Communities for Healthy Living case study (2) takes place within the context of a study funded by the National Institute of Minority Health and Health Disparities of NIH, which funded 6 research studies utilizing CBPR in the development of interventions addressing health disparities. Because the studies were funded under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, each was constrained to a rapid two-year timeline to develop and pilot test the intervention. The goal of this study was to develop and pilot test a childhood obesity intervention for low-income families using a CBPR approach to actively engage parents across three phases, Phase 1: Partnership development, Phase 2: Community assessment and intervention development, and Phase 3: Intervention implementation and evaluation. The family-centered intervention targeted parent/caregivers with children participating in Head Start programs in Rensselaer County, NY (about 500 children ages 6 weeks to 5 years old) for childhood obesity prevention. Rensselaer County, in Upstate New York, has areas designated as Medically Underserved Areas (6), and 28% of all families with children under age 5 living below the poverty level (7).

Learning Areas:

Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
Explain specific strategies used to engage low-income parent/families in a participatory intervention research process as experts or co-researchers. In addition, CHL academic researchers will present the theory used and measures of the evaluation of the participatory process of engaging parents. Identify lessons learned, assess the challenges they experienced participating, and explain from their perspective, why involving parents in research that impacts low-income families is so important.

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: 2009- Volunteer Research Assistant, Communities for Healthy Living research project, Troy NY Since 2010-2011, I have served as an intern at Rensselaer County Historical Society in Troy, NY. In 2011 I became the Program Assistant/Marketing Consultant for the Rensselaer County Historical Society in Troy, NY.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.