Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2021 Apr 8;18(8):3893. doi: 10.3390/ijerph18083893.
Community-engaged research (CEnR) has emerged within public health and medicine as an approach to research designed to increase health equity, reduce health disparities, and improve community and population health. We sought to understand how CEnR has been conducted and to identify needs to support CEnR within an emerging academic learning health system (aLHS). We conducted individual semi-structured interviews with investigators experienced in CEnR at an emerging aLHS in the southeastern United States. Eighteen investigators (16 faculty and 2 research associates) were identified, provided consent, and completed interviews. Half of participants were women; 61% were full professors of varied academic backgrounds and departments. Interviews were audio-recorded, transcribed, coded, and analyzed using constant comparison, an approach to grounded theory. Twenty themes emerged that were categorized into six domains: Conceptualization and Purpose, Value and Investment, Community-Academic Partnerships, Sustainability, Facilitators, and Challenges. Results also identified eight emerging needs necessary to enhance CEnR within aLHSs. The results provide insights into how CEnR approaches can be harnessed within aLHSs to build and nurture community-academic partnerships, inform research and institutional priorities, and improve community and population health. Findings can be used to guide the incorporation of CEnR within aLHSs.