Building a research team: A Cochrane US Network experience focusing on racial health equity

Date & Time
Wednesday, September 6, 2023, 12:30 PM - 2:00 PM
Location Name
Session Type
Capacity building in evidence synthesis
Riddle D1, Viswanathan M1, Weiss K2, Duque T3
1Cochrane US Network, USA
2Cochrane, Switzerland
3Cochrane, USA

Background: Cochrane US Network (Network) was established in 2019 and comprises 23 US-based organizations producing and disseminating Cochrane and other high-quality evidence informing healthcare decisions. Network members had little experience working together but solidified common goals and objectives for increased use of evidence to inform healthcare policy, practice, decision-making, and standards of care. The first large-scale partnership project awarded to the Network is for prioritizing racial health equity in evidence synthesis in the United States. This Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) grant facilitated multiple partnerships throughout the Network and brought together multidisciplinary health professionals from diverse backgrounds, with diverging opinions and various levels of experience.
Methods: An informational partnership between the Network and RWJF began in 2019 through connections made at the Network launch. Over 3 years, conversations among the Network, RWJF, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention progressed through several project ideas and concepts, concluding with a defined project in October 2022. Being the first large-scale collaborative, funded project of the Network, it served as a pilot toward informing protocols and procedures for partnership building, funds management, project team development, and cohesion across agencies. Diplomatic and open conversations, as well as expertise and availability, played key roles in deciding project composition—from both an organizational and individual standpoint. Use of technology accelerated this process and is a key tool in project management and research methods. A milestone payment system enhances accountability across subcontractors and fosters project success.
Results: Preliminary results are encouraging. Clear communication and expectations guided us toward a cohesive project team. Given the team expertise, dedication, and lived experience, we look forward to achieving improved prioritization of racial health equity in evidence synthesis in the United States and abroad. Discussion: Although the time from the initial conversations to the award was 3 years, the time from the award to the project start was limited. Despite time constraints, unfamiliar working partnerships, and divergent methodological experience, we assembled a diverse and dedicated project team within a month. Understanding the flexibility, restraints, and institutional requirements of project team organizations is crucial to a successful delegation of responsibilities.