Xie Aims to Bridge Gap Between Science and Community Health

Xie Aims to Bridge Gap Between Science and Community Health

In a region grappling with persistent health disparities, Rongbing Xie, DrPH, MPH, a scholar at the Forge AHEAD Center, is working to bring academic studies closer to the communities they aim to serve. Xie recently participated in the 2024 Community Engaged Research Summer Institute, hosted by the Mississippi Center for Clinical and Translational Research (MCCTR) at the University of Southern Mississippi, designed to enhance community engagement in health research.

The institute provided Xie with new perspectives on conducting impactful research.

From Academia to Action

Xie anticipates her experience and skills gained through the Summer Institute will significantly influence her current research. Specifically, she will be able to “develop more effective strategies for recruiting and retaining participants, particularly among underserved populations.”

At the institute, Xie and her fellow scholars engaged in hands-on community research practices. She plans to incorporate these strategies into her future work, including focus groups and community advisory boards.

“I plan to adopt the comprehensive community engagement strategies learned during the institute to ensure that community voices are heard and incorporated at every stage of my research projects,” she explained. “This includes conducting focus groups, community advisory boards and regular feedback sessions.”

The Power of Mentorship

Xie’s experience was enriched by mentorship from experts like Forge AHEAD Community Engagement Core lead Caroline Compretta, Ph.D.

“Working with Dr. Caroline Compretta during the MCCTR Summer Institute has been an eye-opening experience,” Xie said. “Her expertise in community engagement and outreach has significantly influenced my approach to involving communities in my research.”

This mentorship reinforced for Xie the importance of community partnerships in research.

Xie headshot

Rongbing Xie, DrPh, MPH

Assistant Professor, Department of Surgery, UAB Heersink School of Medicine

Learn more about Xie.

“The most valuable lesson I took away from the institute is the critical importance of integrating community perspectives into every phase of the research process.”

A Lesson for Life

As the institute drew to a close, Xie carried with her a profound realization: the community isn’t just the subject of research – they’re partners in the journey to better health.

“The most valuable lesson I took away from the institute is the critical importance of integrating community perspectives into every phase of the research process,” she explains. “This approach not only enhances the relevance and impact of the research but also fosters trust and cooperation between researchers and community members.”

Why This Matters

Xie’s experience at the Summer Institute has implications far beyond her individual research. The health challenges she’s addressing – obesity, diabetes, and high blood pressure – affect communities across America, with some groups disproportionately impacted.

By fostering stronger connections between researchers and communities, initiatives like the MCCTR Summer Institute aim to create more effective, culturally sensitive interventions. This approach could lead to improved health outcomes and a reduction in long-standing health inequities.

A Call to Action

Xie’s journey highlights the need for collaboration between researchers, community leaders, and citizens in tackling public health challenges. As she returns to her work with her Forge AHEAD projects, her experience serves as a reminder of the potential for academic research to drive meaningful change when rooted in community engagement.

What is Community-Based Participatory Research?

Community-Based Participatory Research (CBPR) is a collaborative approach that combines knowledge and action to improve community health and reduce disparities.

Key Features:

  • Equal Partnership: Community members and researchers share power and responsibility throughout the research process.
  • Cultural Relevance: Methods and interventions are tailored to fit the cultural context of the community.
  • Community Focused: Research addresses issues important to the community.
  • Empowerment: Builds on community strengths and resources.
  • Action and Change: Uses results to promote social change and improve health.
  • Sustainability: Aims for long-term benefits and lasting relationships.

CBPR makes research more ethical, relevant, and beneficial by actively involving communities and addressing their specific needs.

For more information, refer to the article “Community-based Participatory Research (CBPR): Towards Equitable Involvement of Community in Psychology Research” published in American Psychologist.


2024 Community Engaged Research Summer Institute Participants

Xie presenting one of her Forge AHEAD projects at the Summer Institute

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