Methods: We describe four studies with community-based translational prevention designs, including processes of community engagement and retention and data from each project.
Results: Study #1 tested neurobiological-genetic tailoring variables via two prevention programs aimed at reducing adolescent substance use. Community engagement involved research teams with community members and community science specialists. Participant retention involved in-home assessments; community-friendly research facility; and feedback surveys. Study #2 was an RCT of a positive parenting intervention adapted for military families. Since 2010, 336 families have participated in the study with limited attrition through the final two-year follow-up. This was achieved despite the absence of any centralized military installations in the state, relying solely on geographically-dispersed National Guard families. Success in recruitment and retention was made possible by building strong relationships with various military-affiliated groups; ensuring members of the military community were involved in the research process; and by prioritizing communication with participating families. Study #3 tested components of an executive function (EF) microtrial in a homeless shelter, which significantly improved outcomes (B = .564, p<0.001). Community engagement and retention involved frequent research presence in the shelter; focus groups; and research staff volunteering in the shelter. Study #4 piloted a sleep-promoting intervention for children living in supportive family housing. Community members and stakeholders identified research objectives; informed retention, recruitment, and data collection in participants’ apartments; and were involved in intervention design and dissemination of results.
Conclusions: Based on experiences from all four studies the following components of successful community-engaged translational prevention research are recommended: 1.) Community members play active role in entire research process, 2.) Researchers maintain positive relationship with community via focus groups, volunteering, and frequent meetings, 3.) Prevention goals seek to address needs of community, rather than the community serving as a convenience sample, and 4.) Results be actively shared with community and used to improve prevention efforts.