Health Promot Int. 2020 Dec 3:daaa105. doi: 10.1093/heapro/daaa105. Online ahead of print.
Multi-sectoral collaborative approaches with strong community engagement are essential for addressing health disparities. A valid tool for assessing organizational research and capacity for community health research stakeholders could help strengthen organizational capacity for engagement in such collaborations. This study was conducted to validate an innovative tool for assessing research activity and capacity of a spectrum of stakeholder organizations to provide support for strengthening community health research capacity in Bhutan. In-person interviews with academics (n = 10), clinicians (n = 10), government staff (n = 10), consultants (n = 2) and management of health-related civil society organizations (CSOs; n = 12 interviews/organizations, 13 individuals) were recorded and transcribed. Questions covered individual and organizational research activity and capacity, research networks and an international version of the Community Research Assessment Tool (CREAT-I). Almost all participants (84%) had participated in community health research projects. Social network analysis showed a large, interconnected cluster with a few key individuals linking across sectors. CREAT-I responses identified the highest capacity in organizational support for research among academic participants, while clinical and CSO participants reported highest capacity in practical research experiences and government participants reported highest capacity in research specific experiences. The CREAT-I tool showed strong internal reliability (Cronbach’s α = 0.91) and validity. Limited money, time and skilled staff were identified as barriers to research. The CREAT-I assesses community health research capacity of organizations, and such a tool could be useful in identifying research capacity needs, monitoring impact of research capacity-building activities and contributing to a greater capacity for multi-sectoral collaborative approaches to community health research in international settings.