Community Engagement at the NIH
The NIH Director's Council of Public Representatives (COPR) is a federal advisory committee made up of members of the public. COPR members advise the NIH Director on issues related to public participation in NIH research activities, community outreach efforts, and other matters of public interest. NIH selects new COPR members each year, to serve an average of four-year terms.
The Public Trust Initiative seeks to enable the public to understand and have full confidence in the research that NIH conducts and supports, both across the United States and throughout the world.
Important Definitions in Community Engagement
The term "community" can refer to many different groups. Communities may be defined by geography, race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, disability, illness or other health condition. A community may also refer to groups that have a common interest or cause, such as health or service agencies and organizations, health care or public health practitioners or providers, policy makers, or lay groups with public health concerns.
Source: Community Participation in Research, PA Number PAR-05026.
Definitions of Community Engagement
"Public participation" involves two-way communication and collaborative problem solving. The need for public participation is based on the belief that those who are affected by a decision have a right to be involved in the decision-making process. In order to have public participation, organizations like NIH attempt to consult with interested or affected individuals, organizations, and government entities before making a decision. The goal of public participation is to reach better and more acceptable decisions.
- International Association for Public Participation. IAP2 Core Values. 2007.
- Creighton & Creighton, Inc. What is Public Participation? 2008.
"Community engagement" in research is a dimension of public participation. Community engagement is a process of inclusive participation that supports mutual respect of values, strategies, and actions. Communities can be made up of people affiliated with, or self-identified as, a community, based on geographic proximity, shared special interest, or other similar situations.
Effective engagement is a core element of any research effort involving communities. It requires academic members to become part of the community, and requires community members to become part of the research team. This cooperation creates a unique working and learning environment before, while, and after the research is conducted.
- Jones L, Wells K. Strategies for academic and clinician engagement in community-participatory partnered research. JAMA, 297:407-410. 2007. [PubMed]
- Fawcett SB, Paine-Andrews A, Francisco VT, Schultz JA, Richter KP, Lewis RK, Williams EL, Harris KJ, Berkley JY, Fisher JL, Lopez CM. Using empowerment theory in collaborative partnerships for community health and development. Am J Community Psychol, 23:677-697. 1995. [PubMed]
Last Reviewed: February 28, 2012