UBC Faculty Research and Publications

Assessing community (peer) researcher’s experiences with conducting spirometry and being engaged in the ‘Participatory Research in Ottawa: Management and Point-of-care for Tobacco-dependence’ (PROMPT) project Charron, Catherine B; Hudani, Alzahra; Kaur, Tina; Rose, Tiffany; Florence, Kelly; Jama, Sadia; Pakhalé, Smita


Plain summary: This article examines the overall experiences of community researchers in their involvement with the ‘PROMPT’ project for smoking cessation, which targeted community members who were homeless or at-risk for homelessness. More specifically, four community members, representing the study population were involved in the project as researchers. They were asked to complete surveys at both the beginning and end of each research training session to better understand their learning as it related to using a key instrument for this project, a spirometer, to measure project participants’ lung function. Spirometry is typically performed by trained healthcare providers. Community researchers were also interviewed to explore what their experiences were like working as a researcher with their own at-risk community. Although the researchers felt that the training was sufficient, more research is needed to evaluate training effectiveness among community researchers in delivering acceptable quality lung function testing using a spirometer. Upon analyzing the small group discussion and survey results, we found that the community researchers had an overall positive experience with both the project, and the training that was provided to equip them with the knowledge, tools, and resources they needed to successfully work in a research project of this kind. They also faced challenges that are common in such community-based projects, such as the power differential between the researchers with a healthcare background and themselves who have lived experience with the issue at hand. Background: 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. Objective: 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. Method: 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. Results: 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. Conclusion: 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.

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Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

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