How to engage and prepare community partners in ethical research practices
The Michigan Institute for Clinical & Health Research (MICHR) at the University of Michigan has developed an interactive training to engage and prepare community partners to both interact with Institutional Review Boards (IRB) and to perform ethical research practices in their community settings. There are already many hurdles for research that respectfully engages with communities, and through the use of interactive training, MICHR hopes to reduce or remove some of these hurdles. The goal of the training is to build community partners’ capacities both to engage with the difficult academic review system and to make these regulations relevant to their own practices. MICHR hopes to increase the ethical quality of community-based research (vis-à-vis existing regulations) AND to promote a culture shift where IRBs come to recognize the unique ethical qualities and challenges faced by community-engaged research. This is why a large portion of this training focuses on facilitating communication between community partners and both their academic partners and institutional review boards.
How the training is organized
This training is divided into three sections:
* Section 1 focuses on the history of current regulations and why they should be considered relevant and significant, at least in their core motivations, to community partners. * Section 2 attempts to bring the informed consent requirements out of the legalistic language of IRBs and make them more intuitive and applicable in community settings. Exercises and activities challenge trainees to apply aspects of informed consent to situations they may face, and brainstorm potential solutions to them. * Section 3 focuses on interactions with IRBs. We discuss the particular aspects of research with ethical importance to IRBs, how to communicate them to the boards, and provides sample documents that may be useful to both IRBs and community/academic partnerships in expediting review of their projects.
Intended Audience While this training was specifically designed to address the challenges and experiences of community partners engaged in research with an academic institution, it should also be of great use to the academic researcher side of the partnership as well. All of the challenges or tools are applicable to anyone who does research, and in the experience of the authors, adequate training in informed consent is often neglected overall, not merely in the case of community partners. Moreover, this training has been designed to be more interactive and engaging than existing online courses, and this type of educational approach has been shown to be more effective in general, not merely with nonscientist adults.
How to use this training All aspects of this training are available online for download. It can be utilized to facilitate a group session or individually.