Evaluating Community–Academic Partnerships of the South Carolina Healthy Brain Research Network

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Abstract

Community–academic partnerships have a long history of support from public health researchers and practitioners as an effective way to advance research and solutions to issues that are of concern to communities and their citizens. Data on the development and evaluation of partnerships focused on healthy aging and cognitive health were limited. The purpose of this article is to examine how community partners view the benefits and barriers of a community–academic partner group established to support activities of the South Carolina Healthy Brain Research Network (SC-HBRN). The SC-HBRN is part of the national Healthy Brain Research Network, a thematic research network funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). It is focused on improving the scientific and research translation agenda on cognitive health and healthy aging. Semistructured interviews, conducted at end of Year 2 of the 5-year partnership, were used to collect data from partners of the SC-HBRN. Reported benefits of the partnership were information sharing and networking, reaching a broader audience, and humanizing research. When asked to describe what they perceived as barriers to the collaborative, partners described some lack of clarity regarding goals of the network and opportunities to contribute to the partnership. Study results can guide and strengthen other public health-focused partnerships.

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