The Ottawa Citizen Engagement and Action Model (OCEAM) used a Community Based Participatory Action Research (CBPAR) approach by involving the most at-risk urban population. Community (peer) researchers participated in every step of the study despite the multiple challenges.
To assess the community researchers’ training and experiences in a CBPAR project, PROMPT: Participatory Research in Ottawa: Management and Point-of-care for Tobacco Dependence.
Four community researchers were recruited, representative of the PROMPT project’s target population with current or past poly-substance use; smoking tobacco; and/or being homeless or at-risk for homelessness. The community researchers participated in all phases of PROMPT, including study design, development of questionnaires, participant recruitment, administering consent forms and questionnaires, as well as hand-held spirometry after rigorous training. To assess their knowledge and comfort level with spirometry testing after standardized training, questionnaires were administered pre- and post-training. In turn, to assess their overall experience, interviews were conducted at the end of study completion.
All community researchers underwent small-group training sessions including presentations, discussions and hands-on practice adapted from standardized training material prepared for health care professionals. Spirometry training was included in all sessions. Self-perceived knowledge and confidence in administering spirometry, as well as skill-testing score averages improved between the pre- and post-training questionnaires. Overall, all the community researchers had a fulfilling experience participating in the project.
Despite challenges, involving community researchers with lived experience is feasible, satisfying and productive even in the most marginalized populations. Standardized spirometry training of community researchers’ representative of the PROMPT target population, with no healthcare educational background, was feasible and effective in improving knowledge, confidence and readiness to administer spirometry.