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2023 HSR&D/QUERI National Conference Abstract

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5002 — Veterans Research Town Hall of the CHERP Veterans Community Advisory Board

Lead/Presenter: Jillian Harris
All Authors: Velasquez B (Center for Health Equity Research and Promotion, Crescenz VA Medical Center) Harris J (Center for Health Equity Research and Promotion, Crescenz VA Medical Center) Kaminstein D (Center for Health Equity Research and Promotion, Crescenz VA Medical Center, University of Pennsylvania) Brown KM (Center for Health Equity Research and Promotion, Crescenz VA Medical Center)

The objective of the Veterans Research Town Hall is to give Veterans an opportunity to have their questions about VA Research answered by experienced and expert Research leaders, investigators and staff. The Town Hall is a venue to dispel myths and falsehoods about research and study participation, and to explain why it is important to participate.

This unique event, the first of its kind in the country, began in September 2019 and hosts speakers who are Veterans, and also investigators, staff, and researchers, all of whose work focuses on a vulnerable population central to CHERP’s research mission. Our keynote speakers have been Veterans of color who have experienced improvement in their health on account of participation in a study, and also Veterans who faced adverse social determinants of health and who connected with VA Research to improve their care. Our next Town Hall, scheduled for September 2022, will center justice-involved Veterans, the Philadelphia Veterans Court and related services provided by our VA.

I am the newest member of the Veterans Community Advisory Board. However, I have committed to a role as the Master of Ceremonies for our September 2022 Town Hall. The ways I engage with other members of the Town Hall team is in a spirit of true collaboration with includes shared decision-making, shared knowledge and most importantly respect for the views and experiences my teammates bring to this project.

Attendee evaluation of the Town Hall reflects high level knowledge and specific understanding of Veteran health disparities, how Veterans wish to be approached by and engaged in Research, social determinants of health important to Veterans, topics Veterans would like to see researched, and barriers Veterans encounter when participating in research. Insights from this program lead to a trauma-informed Recruitment Enhancement Toolkit that assists researchers and staff with a set of tools and techniques to aid in research recruitment.

This project represents a first: a facility level outreach event that is truly Veteran-designed and Veteran-centered. Our Medical Center Director and Leadership Team requested we transition the Town Hall to an annual event, and to make it one of the primary Town Hall-type community outreach events for our medical center. The future of this project includes encouraging other VEGs and VAMCs to host Veterans Research Town Halls, to facilitate improved communication about Research advancements and spread the word of the benefits of VA research to Veterans.