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Your Environment. Your Health.

New Framework Helps Researchers Return Results to Participants

Melanie Pearson, Ph.D.
Emory University
P30ES019776, P50ES026102, P42ES031007, P30ES005605

NIEHS grantees developed a framework and set of recommendations to help environmental health researchers return research results to study participants, a process called result report-back. According to the authors, report-back has the potential to improve environmental health education and communication and overall public health. Despite strong recommendations for report-back, researchers share results with study participants infrequently and inconsistently, the authors said.

To create the framework, the researchers used feedback from 35 community engagement practitioners who participated in a workshop at the 2018 NIEHS Partnerships for Environmental Public Health Annual Meeting. Workshop attendees responded to the prompt: “What are some specific issues that are relevant to reporting back research results to individuals or the larger community?” Participants then grouped similar responses and rated groups by importance to successful result report-back. The researchers used qualitative and quantitative methods to create a framework, called a concept map, to visualize relationships between responses.

Five themes emerged from this process. Listed from most to least important, the themes were: effective communication strategies, community knowledge and concerns, uncertainty, empowering action, and institutional review and oversight. Engaging community partners in the process of result report-back emerged as a unifying global theme. The researchers further examined responses and made recommendations to address challenges within and across themes.

Environmental health researchers and practitioners should address these five specific themes when planning and implementing their result report-back activities, say the authors.

Citation: Lebow-Skelley E, Yelton S, Janssen B, Erdei E, Pearson MA. 2020. Identifying issues and priorities in reporting back environmental health data. Int J Environ Res Public Health 17(18):6742.

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