To build collaboration and strengthen existing relationships between the University and its community.
That’s the purpose of Collaborative Pilot Research Grants, awarded by the Clinical and Translational Science Institute’s (CTSI) Office of Community Engagement for Health (OCEH). And throughout the summer of 2010, that purpose was put on full display. Funded by AHC schools and colleges, 11 grants totaling $360,000 were given to bring together community-based organizations and University researchers.
Mary Story, Ph.D., co-chair of the OCEH, finds it crucial to engage community personnel in not only the planning—but all phases of community-based research projects.
“There needs to be a partnership between the community organizations and University researchers if we are going to come up with the most feasible and effective strategies for dealing with health concerns,” said Story.
But it hasn’t always been like this.
“Years ago, researchers would go into a community and not really actively involve the community. But those days are over,” said Story. “Within the past 10 years, University researchers have made a huge effort to work collaboratively with communities and organizations.”
This past summer, community-based organizations were encouraged to apply for a pilot grant under one of five areas: children’s health, health disparities, health care systems, rural health, and collaborative research between the University of Minnesota, University of Wisconsin, and community partners in both states. If the organizations didn’t already have an existing relationship with a University researcher, the CTSI would match that organization with a researcher in a related field of study.
“It’s a unifying approach,” said Story. “Not only does the CTSI provide resources, but it also provides the infrastructure to assist researchers and communities working together. We are working to build a sustainable relationship with our community.”
Among others, a new partnership between the Center for Spirituality & Healing and Benedictine Health System was formed as a result of these pilot grants. The group will measure the impact of qigong (a series of mental and physical exercises) on quality of life in older adults living in long-term care facilities. Mary Jo Kreitzer, Ph.D., RN, Director of the Center for Spirituality & Healing and a professor in the School of Nursing, is the principal investigator of the study.
“We are very pleased to have the opportunity to collaborate with the Benedictine Health System,” says Kreitzer. “They have a long tradition of providing comprehensive, holistic care and are eager to implement additional evidence-based interventions. The project leverages the strengths of the Center for Spirituality and Healing and the BHS and has the potential of generating new knowledge as well as improving care.”
For more information, and to view all award winners, visit the CTSI website.
-- Emily Jensen