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Course Spotlight: Community-Engaged Research for Clinical Effectiveness and Implementation Science Studies 

Published: May 6th, 2024

Category: General

When comparing online graduate programs, you’re searching for that ideal program — the one that ticks all the boxes. A crucial factor in narrowing down your options is evaluating the courses that each program offers. 

Because not every course catalog is created equal, it’s essential to invest your time and effort into a program that offers courses that are relevant to your current or future role. Clinical trials are a critical area for many individuals in implementation science, particularly developing and conducting trials that are patient-centered

For example, the University of Florida’s Graduate Certificate in Implementation Science includes four distinct online courses, one of which emphasizes engaging community stakeholders in the research process. Today, we’re dissecting the details of Community Engaged Research for Clinical Effectiveness and Implementation Science Studies to provide more context on its relevance to your career and what you can expect to learn. 

What Is Implementation Science? 

Implementation science is a branch of the health sciences that concentrates on the successful integration of evidence-based practices into real-world settings. 

Let’s assume you’re an implementation scientist who’s interested in decreasing mental health issues in middle and high school populations. You’d be involved in one or more of the following steps that work toward implementing interventions in those communities: 

  • Researching and assessing the mental health needs of students in your target area. 
  • Selecting the appropriate intervention methods based on your research. 
  • Adapting the interventions to fit the specific needs of your target schools and population. 
  • Developing a detailed implementation plan to roll out to involved stakeholders. 
  • Testing the intervention on a small-scale setting (similar to that of a clinical trial). 
  • Evaluating the intervention’s effectiveness and making changes accordingly. 

Clinical Trials: A Brief Introduction 

Clinical trials are research studies that take a deeper look into the effectiveness and safety of medical interventions or treatments. They often use a structured protocol that compares the use of different interventions to determine which ones are most effective in real-world settings, from schools and hospitals to community health centers and clinical practices. 

The Benefits of Engaging Stakeholders  

For many, the era of viewing patients in clinical trials as mere ‘subjects’ has passed. Instead, implementation scientists often regard them as helpful collaborators in the trials. This shift in mindset has elevated patients to a core role in the development and successful implementation of interventions. 

That said, one valuable skill set for implementation scientists to master is the art of engaging communities — including physicians, policymakers, patients and families — in the research process, particularly in clinical trials. Involving stakeholders who will be impacted by the intervention makes the research more relevant and applicable to each community’s unique needs. 

Below are some advantages of focusing on stakeholder engagement in clinical and implementation science:   

Improving Patient Outcomes 

By engaging patients and communities,  you focus on what matters most to the patients you’re trying to serve: their quality of life and their well-being. When research objectives align with a community’s specific concerns, the results are more likely to lead to better patient outcomes. 

Increasing Patient Compliance 

Patients’ interest in participating may increase when they feel their perspectives and needs are at the forefront of the clinical trial’s objectives. In addition, patient-centered trials sometimes involve patients in decision-making processes like designing the early stages of the trial and providing input on potential outcome measures. Giving them more hands-on roles may lead to better adherence to the treatment protocols and a higher patient retention rate. 

Improving Use of Interventions 

Engaging patients and providers helps to ensure that interventions are acceptable and feasible in specific health care settings. An intervention that is adapted to patient needs and clinic workflow is more likely to be used, and will remain sustainable after your research ends.   

What to Expect in the Course 

One of the online courses you’ll take to earn your Graduate Certificate in Implementation Science is called Community Engaged Research for Clinical Effectiveness and Implementation Science Studies. In this course, you’ll learn about conducting practical clinical trials and research studies in implementation science with a focus on community involvement. 

Throughout the course, students will focus on: 

  • Understanding how to create clinical trials and research studies that involve communities as partners. 
  • Identifying strategies to form partnerships with communities that address gaps in knowledge around evidence-based interventions. 
  • Exploring ways to include the preferences and outcomes of patients and other stakeholders in clinical research. 

Student Learning Outcomes 

At the end of the course, students will be able to: 

  • Discuss the major concepts related to engaging communities in the design, implementation, interpretation and dissemination of research. 
  • Understand the advantages and challenges of involving communities in clinical trials and research and learn how to overcome obstacles. 
  • Create plans for involving communities in choosing research topics and starting the planning process. 
  • Explore examples of important clinical trials and research studies,  describe  their designs and learn how to involve communities to enhance these designs. 
  • Describe the role of multiple stakeholders and how to involve them in research. 
  • Evaluate clinical trials and implementation studies that include community engagement while considering their strengths and weaknesses in their study designs and engagement strategies. 

Become a Pioneer in Patient-Centered Clinical Trials 

Whether you’re new to the health scienced industry or you’ve taken small steps into the world of clinical research and are intrigued to know more, this course will expand your knowledge in several key areas, including providing the skills needed to incorporate a patient-centered view on clinical trials. 

Our Graduate Certificate in Implementation Science also boasts three other highly relevant courses that will help you excel in the industry. They include: 

In just a year, you can complete our 11-credit online graduate program and begin the next chapter in your career in implementation science. Take the first step and apply today