Understanding the supports of and challenges to community engagement in the CTSAs

Jessica Holzer, Nancy Kass

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Background: The Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA) program has raised the profile and the available funding for engagement in biomedical research. Such increased funding and attention may address known barriers to engagement. However, little work has been done to describe experiences across multiple CTSAs, especially how the CTSA structure supports or challenges engagement. Objective: We sought to understand the supports and challenges experienced by multiple CTSAs as they pursued community engagement. This knowledge may help guide future efforts to support and enhance community engagement in biomedical research. Methods: We conducted semi-structured, in-depth interviews with CTSA community engagement core leaders and staff from the 2006 cohort of CTSAs (n = 12). Results: A total of 17 interviews with respondents from nine institutions identified three support themes, including: funding, existing relationships with communities, and leadership and a partnership approach at the institution. Six challenge themes arose: need for capacity development, lack of positive relationships with communities, lack of leadership, funding constraints, time and staff constraints, and unsustainable models. Conclusion: The CTSAs have brought much-needed attention to community engagement in research, but more can be done to adequately support engagement. Challenges remain that need to be addressed to achieve the potential benefits of engagement.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)116-122
Number of pages7
JournalClinical and translational science
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1 2015


  • Challenges
  • Clinical trials
  • Community engagement
  • Supporting factors
  • Translational research

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmaceutics(all)


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