Community Research at USC

Community-engaged research is a framework or approach for conducting research, not a methodology in and of itself. Community-engaged research requires partnership development, cooperation and negotiation, and commitment to addressing local issues of concern, most often health.

Community Engaged Research Descriptions and Resources


Keck School of Medicine (KSOM)
& Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center

The Keck School of Medicine and Norris Comprehesive Cancer Center carry out population health research, whether community-engaged research or community-based participatory research.  Various cohort studies have been carried out to identify risk factors for disease and effects of the environment on the health of communities.  Typically, these studies involve feedback to the participants and their communities.  The Children’s Health Study of air pollution, for example, has provided critical insights into child respiratory health in Southern California.  The NIEHS-funded Environmental Health Sciences Center has worked with communities to carry out data-gathering in relation to specific pollution problems, most notably the air pollution generated by port activities.  Many individual faculty have research based around specific groups, e.g., neighborhoods, various racial/ethnic groups (e.g., research on HIV/AIDS among men who have sex with men and obesity among Hispanics).  The Department of Preventative Medicine has operated the Cancer Surveillance Program (CSP) for four decades as well. The CSP, now a member of the NCI’s Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) Program, is a population-based cancer registry for the 10 million inhabitants of Los Angeles County; the CSP has extensive involvement with a wide group of stakeholders.

Research to Eliminate Health Disparities

Lourdes Baezconde-Garbanati, PhD of the Institute for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Research conducts research primarily in the Hispanic communities around USC. Dr Baezconde-Garbanati uses community trainers and partners to amplify the studies and employ the prevention techniques.

  • Conducting community based health research to achieve health justice at the community level
    • Obesity prevention
    • Tobacco cessation efforts
    • Cervical cancer
    • Education
  • Brings together partners with different skills expertise to address complex problems
  • Enhance practicality of the research by engaging local knowledge
  • Helps overcome community distrust and aims to improve health and well being of the community

The Peer Health Navigator Project

The Peer Health Navigator Project, now called Project Bridge©, is a collaborative effort of a team of USC researchers headed by John Brekke, PhD, with collaboration and support from Pacific Clinics and support from the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health.  The Project is designed to train mental health consumers to help other mental health consumers “navigate” the physical health care system.  The goals are to improve consumers’ utilization of appropriate physical health care (using more cost effective outpatient clinics offices instead of urgent care and emergency rooms), improve health status, and empower consumers to learn skills for navigating their health care needs and service use on their own, in other words, effective self-management.

Southern California Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI)

The CTSI’s Office of Community Engagement (OCE) is one of eight offices/centers that make up the SC CTSI. The OCE is creating a new research infrastructure to support the development of community research partnerships, with the ultimate goals being to promote health, reduce disparities, increase access to care, and to improve the quality of care delivered in Los Angeles County.

The OCE supports community-engaged research (CEnR) that brings researchers, clinicians and the community together to share their knowledge, skills and resources with a common goal of improving the health of Los Angeles communities.