The Role of the Community

The role of the community—defined here as policymakers, community practitioners, and representatives of host organizations—in the knowledge exchange process includes the following steps: defining the problem and assessing the needs, ensuring the readiness of the host organization, selecting a model program, balancing fidelity and adaptability while implementing the program, evaluating the program's effectiveness, and providing feedback to the researchers.

For a community searching for a model program, practicality is paramount. An ideal model that has proved its efficacy and effectiveness through confirmatory, replication, and large-scale field trials is as yet, owing to the status of current prevention research, unlikely to be available. Nevertheless, communities can measure the evidence that is available against a hierarchial scale, such as that adapted from work by the Canadian Task Force on the Periodic Health Examination and the U.S. Preventive Service Task Force (Battista and Fletcher, 1988; Spitzer, 1979) to determine its quality.

Information Sources

Throughout the cycle, there can be information and data ready to be exchanged with community practitioners and policymakers for general use. There are five main routes by which research findings are commonly disseminated: academic journals and books, manuals, clearinghouses, professional conferences, and direct working relationships between researchers and communities to facilitate implementation of the prevention programs. When a research program is being reviewed by a community, published papers and manuals should be obtained from libraries, clearinghouses, or the researchers themselves. The criteria listed in Chapter 7 can then be used to assess the quality of the research.

The committee reviewed the amount of knowledge dissemination currently available. There were exceptionally few articles in professional journals that reported the results from randomized controlled trial designs. For example, many NIMH Prevention Research Branch researchers, including those whose projects are completed, have never published their findings in peer-reviewed academic journals. The publication rates generated from the NIMH Preventive Intervention Research Centers (PIRCs) have been uneven. It is recognized that many preventive interventions require a long follow-up period to assess the effects of the programs and investigators are reluctant to publish



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