Online Program

Two Steps Forward, One Step Back: Lessons learned from a multi-year community-based participatory research project lead by a group of undergraduate students

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Rebecca Smullin Dawson, PhD MPH, Global Health Studies and Biology, Allegheny College, Meadville, PA
Garrett Devenney, Global Health Studies, Allegheny College, Meadville, PA
Erica Bryson, BS, Global Health Studies, Allegheny College, Meadville, PA
During the fall 2013 semester, a group of eight undergraduate students at Allegheny College enrolled in a course called Public Health Surveys and Research Methods initiated a community-based participatory research (CBPR) project in collaboration with a local community hospital. Together students and hospital staff developed a three-year mixed methods proposal to conduct a community health needs assessment (CHNA). Over the next 18 months, more than a dozen undergraduate researchers have collaborated with the hospital as well as 25 local agencies and organization to identify and assess the health needs of the local community. To date, the student-led CBPR research team has completed numerous small epidemiologic studies in the community and organized community meetings to discuss the study protocol, timeline and most resent results.

In addition to the tangible achievements of the project, the student researchers have become involved in the community outside the college campus boundaries; become collaborators with activists and individuals working in the community; and seen the fruits of their work. The local hospital and community groups have found partners and enthusiastic collaborators through their work with the student researchers. All parties involved have benefited from the collaboration.

Together, we have taken two steps forward toward the completion of the project.

At the same time, a step (or two) has been taken backward. Key lessons learned throughout the first 18 months of a mulit-year CBPR project led by undergraduate students will be the central focus of this presentation, using the CHNA project as a case study.

Learning Areas:

Public health or related education

Learning Objectives:
Identify the reasons for involving undergraduate research students in community-based participatory research projects; Describe the success of a CBPR project lead by a team of undergraduate researchers; Name the challenges associated with conducting a CBPR project lead by a team of undergraduate researchers; 4. Discuss promising practices for involving undergraduate students in CBPR projects.

Keyword(s): Community Health Assessment, Community-Based Research (CBPR)

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am the faculty member who has supervised the community-based participatory research project in Meadville, PA, which is lead by a group of undergraduate students. I am a tenure-tracked faculty member with joint appointments in the Global Health Studies Program and Biology Department. I have a PhD in Epidemiology and MPH in environmental health.
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.