Community Studio Overview

A Community Studio provides a quick way to gain stakeholder input on the development or implementation of a research project. The Center for Community Health Partnership & Research (CCHPR) will identify 10-12 patient or community experts to provide input to your research. Selected experts represent diverse backgrounds and are connected to the community in various ways; they bring different experiences to the table, thus providing you with insights into the community/patient population of interest from multiple perspectives. These individuals are not research participants, but instead community advisors.

During the two-hour session, you will describe your research and pose 2-3 questions to your community panel, with an experienced, neutral facilitator guiding conversation to elicit authentic and constructive feedback. Studios can address various components of a study, including but not limited to:

  • culturally appropriateness of materials and messaging
  • identifying entry points for community-based awareness and interest
  • intervention design
  • survey design and language
  • ethical considerations
  • translation of research findings into practice
  • any other area of your project where you identify a need for community input

Prior to the session, CCHPR will work with you to identify questions for stakeholders and translate research into plain language. After the session, you will be provided with written notes and community expert recommendations.

When conducted during the earliest stages of project development, a Community Studio is an effective tool for developing ongoing partnerships and buy-in with stakeholders. CCHPR’s studio is based on the successful model created by Vanderbilt University’s Institute for Clinical and Translational Research.

Budget and Timeline


Facilitation fees | Emerging Wisdom vendor invoice
Rebeccah Bennett, Founder and Owner of Emerging Wisdom, has been facilitating community studios for the ICTS since 2017. She is nationally recognized for her work within the racial equity space, as well as her facilitation skills. Ms. Bennett will review the ICTS investigator’s presentation and materials for health literacy, support development of facilitation questions, facilitate the 120m session, and prepare comprehensive notes following the session.

Community expert compensation | $50 visa gift card + $5 processing fees x 12 individuals per session

Up to 12 community members with lived experience expertise related to the ICTS investigator’s research will participate in the 120m studio and be compensated with a physical $50 gift card after the session. Community members have expressed a desire for physical gift cards that can be used for a variety of purposes, such as paying bills, buying groceries and gas, etc.

Meals and session supplies | $15/person x 20 people

2-hour in person studios are scheduled around a meal; local minority-owned catering will be used when possible. Cost estimate includes delivery to Delmar DivINe, bottled water, serving utensils, and napkins/paper ware.

Photo print + frame | $15/session
Following each studio, community experts who sign a Wash U media release are invited to take a group session photo with the CCHPR team and ICTS investigator’s team (example above). Photos from each session will be framed and displayed on a CCHPR community wall at Delmar DivINe.

*ICTS-provided support includes Center for Community Health Partnership & Research time to develop and coordinate the studio session. Community space is available at no-cost at Deaconess Foundation and/or Delmar DivINe. Cite the NIH CTSA Grant Number UL1TR002345 when your research was supported by ICTS funds or services.


FAQ for Researchers

Why would I request a Community Studio?
Increasingly, both funders and researchers’ are seeking cost-effective and time efficient methods that engage groups of stakeholders and patients to enhance current research practices and improve dissemination. The Community Studio streamlines the process of gathering feedback by creating an infrastructure that works to empower community members to provide meaningful insight into all phases of research.

What is the purpose of the Community Studio?

The Studio allows a researcher to gain feedback from his or her community of interest or patient group about issues pertaining to design, implementation, recruitment, retention and other potential barriers to participation.

Why is there a facilitator?
The Studio utilizes a trained facilitator who has experience working with group processes and understands the principles of community engagement. The use of an independent facilitator allows a researcher to listen to feedback and ask for clarification without having the responsibility of leading the process.

Do I need IRB approval to have a Community Studio?

You do not need IRB approval. The Studio is a process to inform the development, conduct or dissemination of research but is not considered research itself. The stakeholders or community/patient experts who participate in the Studio are not research subjects, rather, they are advisors and/or consultants.

Can the information from Studios be used for research purposes or publication?
It depends on how you intend to use the information. It is acceptable to describe the process and the input that you received. However, because the community experts are not research participants, you cannot provide details of who participated or analyze the input by any demographics.

What is the difference between a Community Studio and a focus group?
Studios are not intended as research. They provide a relatively quick way to gain patient or community input on the development or implementation of a research project. Focus groups are conducted with the use of an explicit interview guide where all questions have been pre-identified. In a focus group, the facilitator is more focused on the subjective experience of the group as opposed to the individual. Studios are utilized to dig deeper into the individual’s knowledge and experience as it might relate to the study. The experts participating can come from a variety of backgrounds with one shared experience, like a particular health condition. While there are 2-3 main topics that will be discussed during a Studio, the discussion is not limited to specific questions. This allows the facilitator to focus the discussion on what is most helpful to the researcher and his/her project. This is important, as issues that may not have been identified prior to the meeting, may turn out to be the most insightful for the research being discussed.

What if I don’t have a budget for a Community Studio?
The Institute of Clinical and Translational Sciences (ICTS) subsidizes the cost of several Studios per year. However, we encourage you to budget and plan for Community Studios in future proposals. Cite the NIH CTSA Grant Number UL1TR002345 when your research was supported by ICTS funds or services.