Our central value is partnership with all the communities with which we work. This entails lifting up their voices; starting from their strengths, assets, and needs; and engaging with them to preserve their dignity and culture. Such participatory approaches ensure that our work is responsive, relevant, adapted, accepted, and sustainable. Community participatory approaches are both a process and an outcome of our research and practice. Our students appreciate the power of co-learning and co-creation of better futures with communities, and learn skills of communication, collaboration, problem-solving, and teamwork.
In our work, we consistently ask: How do we maintain equitable partnerships and keep the community and our partners at the center of our research and practice? How can we maximize the effectiveness of public health interventions through partnerships between community and academia?
Here are some of the community participatory approaches projects our faculty are currently engaged in:
Rima Afifi & Natoshia Askelson
The Active Iowa research program is part of the Prevention Research Center on Rural Health at the CPH. This project will explore mechanisms to disseminate an evidence-based physical activity intervention to several rural counties in Iowa working with health departments and other community organizations. This project builds on the success of Active Ottumwa that increased the physical activity of residents of Ottumwa, Iowa. The project is guided by a statewide advisory board of relevant stakeholders.
Mental Health and Psychosocial Wellbeing of Youth in Humanitarian Settings
Building on previous interventions with Palestinian refugee youth in Lebanon, several community-engaged research projects are currently being developed to develop, implement and evaluate MHPSS programs for Syrian and Palestinian refugee youth in Lebanon, as well as their national counterparts.
Developing and Pilot testing an Online Tool for PrepWise
A disaster preparedness program for rural older residents – Major Goal: To develop disaster PrepWise electronic tool for community-based providers and older adults and dissemination strategies through engaging key stakeholders throughout the project period. Stakeholders include County Emergency Management Agency, County Public Health, Area Agencies on Aging, and other local non-profit organizations and aging services agencies.
Translational Research to Refer Older Adults to Evidence-based Fall Prevention Programs
Major Goal: To develop an infrastructure and protocols for maximizing the reach and adoption of evidence-based falls prevention programs among community-residing older Iowans and to evaluate the referral infrastructure through implementation. Currently, a state-level advisory board and two community-level groups in Cedar Rapids and Burlington are actively engaged in this project.
West Liberty Community Health Survey
Under the guidance of the Coalición de West Liberty, a community-academic partnership, Dr. Gilbert designed and led a community survey to identify health-related strengths and needs in Iowa’s first majority-Latino rural town. Data collection took place in 2016, and analyses were completed in 2017. A summary report is available in English or Spanish. The project followed principles of community-based participatory research, in which community members are equal partners with academics in the design, execution, and interpretation of research studies.
Policies to Prevent Underage Drinking
In 2017 Dr. Gilbert was supported by the Iowa Institute of Public Health Research and Policy for an evaluation of Iowa’s social host liability law (which holds adults liable for providing alcohol to adolescents or allowing underage drinking on their property). Collaborating with the Alliance of Coalitions for Change (AC4C), a network of local substance use prevention groups, Dr. Gilbert investigated both the state-wide law and various county or city ordinances. An issue brief on underage drinking and social host prohibitions was released at a community summit in September 2018 and is available online. Dr.Gilbert and AC4C partners are planning a policy and advocacy summit for Fall 2019, at which a white paper on the topic will be released.
Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention
Evaluation & Training Project – This work is focused on evaluating and improving the IDPH Lead Poisoning Prevention program. A needs assessment was conducted and training is underway to help local program contractors effectively use public health data and communicate with their communities about lead poisoning.
Congolese Health Partnership
The Congolese Health Partnership (CHP) is a collaboration between the Department of Community and Behavioral Health, the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics (UIHC), and leaders in the Congolese community in Johnson County. The CHP was established based on the growing number of Congolese refugees settling in Johnson County and the health care obstacles that these families face, including transportation, language, cultural differences, and difficulty navigating a complex health system. To bring the community together around an issue of mutual concern, the CHP focuses on maternal and child health. More information here.