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CCTS Community Engagement Team Adapts to Accommodate Social Distancing


The CCTS Community Collaboration and Engagement Team supports researchers’ engagement and collaboration with community members, patients, and other stakeholders. To address the need for social distancing due to COVID-19, the Team has successfully moved our Engagement Studios and Community Advisory Boards - formerly held in-person - to Zoom. This has enabled research to move forward in spite of the pandemic.


Engagement Studios provide an opportunity for researchers to consult with 8-10 community/patient/stakeholder “experts” for 2 hours about a topic or issue related to their research. Studios have been fruitfully used by Utah investigators at many points throughout the research life cycle, from an initial needs assessment, through planning a project, designing recruitment strategies, analyzing data and returning research findings to participants. Community Advisory Boards operate similarly, but involve a group of “experts” who meet multiple times throughout a study to provide input.


The Team has developed processes for preparing community members to successfully participate in online meetings using the Zoom platform, including individuals who have not used it before and/or have little experience with technology. We also have developed processes for facilitating these online consultations, helping to ensure that all voices are heard. We are preparing a toolkit to share our approaches and materials with others. Both participants and researchers report being very happy with the new online meeting format.


The transition to Zoom has opened opportunities for individuals to participate as experts who couldn’t previously, such as those for whom travel or attending a meeting is challenging (e.g., mothers with infants), or who live in rural areas. It also has opened up our ability to recruit participants from across the US, which is very helpful for researchers seeking to consult with community experts who meet very specific demographic or patient criteria. Thus, the transition to “Tele-Studios” and “Tele-CABs” has expanded the services the Team can offer to researchers - both during the pandemic and beyond.



For more information:

Louisa A. Stark, PhD, Director, CCTS Community Collaboration and Engagement Team              801-671-8326


Brieanne Witte, Sr. Studio Coordinator, CCTS Community Collaboration and Engagement Team         801-382-7007  

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