Research In Action

Research In Action

Dissemination As Dialogue: Sharing Findings From A Community-Engaged Research Project
August 8, 2023

As a candidate for a Master of Public Health at Drexel University’s Dornsife School of Public Health, I recently completed my Integrative Learning Experience on the Community Violence and Trauma Support (CVTS) team at the Center for Violence Prevention at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP). One of my key roles was to support an ongoing community-academic partnered research project with Beyond the Bars (BTB). BTB is dedicated to interrupting cycles of violence for youth in Philadelphia through student-driven music and career planning programming.

The BTB-CHOP partnership sought to systematically understand BTB’s program model and impact through interviews with key program stakeholders. At the time I joined the project, our collaborative research team was finalizing analysis of data from 27 completed interviews and beginning to think about potential products and audiences in which project findings should be shared.

Determining Priorities For Dissemination and Designing A Product

Our community-academic research team reflected on three key questions to guide the design of meaningful dissemination products:

(1) Who is our audience?

(2) What findings do we want to share?

(3) How can we reach the intended audience in a meaningful way?

Thinking critically about these questions at the outset ensured our efforts aligned with the community-based participatory research approach by centering BTB’s organizational interests and goals and sharing findings with communities beyond our traditional research silos. This approach was exemplified by our team’s first dissemination effort: an innovative community showcase held by the BTB-CHOP team in October of 2022. As we recognized the opportunity to communicate project findings beyond a single event, these questions again guided our decision-making regarding the content, format, and medium of more permanent products.

Who Is Our Audience?

Before choosing a specific mode of dissemination, it was important to understand with whom BTB wanted to share its results. During conversations, BTB expressed interest in an external-facing product that could boost recognition of BTB and its impact. BTB leadership envisioned the product could support program growth and sustainability by fostering relationships with funders, community partners, and potential students and their families.

What Findings Do We Want To Share?

Although I had a general sense that the product would broadly communicate and celebrate central project findings regarding student and community outcomes, asking the entire community-academic research team, “What findings do we want to share?” was significant in the drafting process. By receiving feedback from numerous members of the community-academic research team, my initial drafts gave way to a product that aligned more with BTB’s vision. The content included BTB’s organizational values and program offerings, quantitative metrics of the program’s reach to date (for example, 800+ students taught across Philadelphia!), remarkable student outcomes, and exemplary quotes from project interviews.

How Can We Reach The Intended Audience In Meaningful Ways?

Because BTB wanted to utilize this product for numerous purposes, the product had to be accessible and digestible for a broad audience. With this in mind, the community-academic research team determined a two-page research brief — optimized for both digital and print viewing — would be a useful, multipurpose communication tool. We purposefully crafted the brief’s content, language, stylistic choices, and aesthetics for a broad external audience. We also used descriptive, non-academic language to describe BTB’s core values and how they manifest in its program offerings.

Additionally, time was dedicated to choosing the appropriate call-out boxes, icons, and spacing, all of which helped to emphasize the research findings and additional content. To ensure cohesion with BTB’s other products, we also adjusted the brief to use BTB’s color scheme.

Reflecting On The Final Product: A Multipurpose Research Brief

Through this intentional and iterative process, I developed a final research brief that:

  • Centers BTB’s goals
  • Highlights the voices of the community it serves
  • Aligns with the needs of the audiences with whom it will be shared

My experience on a community-academic research team and my role in developing an accessible research brief underscored the importance of meaningful, creative dissemination methods in community-engaged research. As I co-create other dissemination products to support this partnership, I am committed to asking communications-related questions with the community-academic team. This purposeful reflection produced dissemination products that foster dialogue between BTB and its stakeholders, communicating BTB’s mission, values, impact, and genuine dedication to the communities it serves.

BTB Brief Page 1
BTB Brief page 2