Community Engagement Across the CTSA Program Consortium

NCATS’ Clinical and Translational Science Awards (CTSA) Program hubs work hand in hand with community leaders to build strong relationships, understand community needs and improve community health. The CTSA Program hubs have long prioritized engaging communities in the research process. This commitment to community engagement accelerates clinical research, expands treatment delivery and speeds the response to public health challenges. For more information about NCATS’ CTSA Program community engagement efforts, download the community engagement fact sheet.

 

doctors with patients
Identifying Treatments for COVID-19

When the COVID-19 pandemic began, no approved treatments or vaccines were available to counteract SARS-CoV-2. NIH responded swiftly with the ACTIV initiative, a public-private partnership to prioritize and speed the development of the most promising treatments and vaccines. The ACTIV partnership has evaluated hundreds of available therapeutic agents with potential application for COVID-19 and has prioritized the most promising candidates for rigorous clinical trials. NCATS and its CTSA Program are taking a lead role in two ACTIV trials. The first is the ACTIV-1 Immune Modulator (IM) trial, which is evaluating three therapeutics that could restore balance to an overactive immune system in adults hospitalized with COVID-19. The CTSA Program hubs are applying their expertise to speed clinical trial recruitment and expand the diversity of trial participants. Learn more about the ACTIV-1 IM trial.

The second trial is ACTIV-6, which will test several existing drugs that can be taken at home to see if the treatments provide safe, effective symptom relief in mild to moderate COVID-19 and prevent hospitalization. The CTSA Program hubs will help coordinate the trial and partner with the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute to expedite enrollment. Read more about the ACTIV-6 trial.

Broadening Community Participation in Clinical Research

Mistrust of medical research is a primary reason that underserved minority communities have low participation rates in clinical trials, despite the possible benefits. To find more volunteer participants in these communities, CTSA Program researchers at Yale University partnered with local faith-based and social services leaders in African American and Latino communities to create the Yale Cultural Ambassadors Program. Through the program, local community leaders in the New Haven, Connecticut, region work with medical researchers to build trust within their communities by sharing information and providing access to clinical trials. As a result, Yale researchers saw an increase in minority clinical trial participation. The Program ambassadors’ engagement efforts also have helped change the perceptions of clinical research within their communities and increase participation in clinical studies for conditions ranging from prostate cancer to COVID-19.

Read the latest news from the Yale Cultural Ambassadors Program to learn more.

Expanding Access to Diagnosis and Treatment

Timely detection and treatment of diabetic retinopathy can stop the progression to blindness. However, access to eyesight-saving specialty care can be limited for people from underserved and racially and ethnically diverse communities. To expand access to diagnosis and treatment in Los Angeles County, CTSA Program researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles, collaborated with the County to bring retinopathy screening tools to county-run primary care clinics. The initiative has increased screening rates, reduced screening wait times and brought specialty eye treatment sooner to those who need it most.

Understanding and Alleviating Barriers to COVID-19 Testing

The nation’s underserved and vulnerable populations need accurate, fast, widely accessible COVID-19 testing to safely return to normal life. To meet that need, the NIH RADx initiative is speeding the development and use of innovative COVID-19 testing technologies. RADx is exploring new uses of existing technologies and moving more advanced diagnostic technologies swiftly and safely through development and into widespread community use. The NIH RADx Underserved Populations (RADx-UP) program is funding six CTSA Program hubs to gain a better understanding of, and alleviate barriers to, COVID-19 testing and to reduce the burden of the disease among underserved and vulnerable populations. Find out how RADx is bringing COVID-19 testing options to life faster. Read more

Raising Awareness and Educating About COVID-19

CEAL engages community partners in areas of the country where the impact of COVID‑19 has been greatest. CEAL’s goal is to reduce the burden of disease on the hardest hit communities, and the CTSA Program hubs resources are key to achieving that goal. Working directly with community partners, the hubs raise awareness about COVID-19, educate people about the pandemic, and continue to build trust and understanding. They also work to ensure that COVID-19 prevention and treatment clinical trials include racially and ethnically diverse communities most affected by the pandemic. Learn more about how CEAL, NIH and the CTSA Program hubs are working to bring COVID-19 answers to communities in need. Read more

CTSA Supported Community Engagement Tools

The CTSA Program has long been supporting community engagement efforts through the Trial Innovation Network and by developing and applying key principles to engaging patients and communities in every phase of the translational process.

The Trial Innovation Network provides resources from CTSA Program hubs and reputable community health partners conducting engagement, recruitment, and retention activities for clinical trials and multi-site studies to the research community. Types of resources include COVID-19 recruitment and retention toolkits, best practices for conducting trials during the COVID-19 pandemic, a webinar for engaging racial and ethnic minority patient populations in COVID-19 clinical trials, and more.

Discover more about how NCATS’ CTSA Program supports collaborative initiatives that engage communities, expand clinical studies and translate scientific knowledge into community-based health solutions for COVID-19 and beyond.

Testimonials from the CTSA Program Hubs