Reconsidering Community-Engaged Research Through a Syndemic Theoretical Framework: Lessons from COVID-19

Online Publication Date:
April 14, 2022
Publication Status:
Published Article MUSE Link:
Manuscript PDF File:

**Published in Progress in Community Health Partnerships (PCHP) 16.2S. All rights reserved.**

Background: Community-engaged research is a well-established approach to tackling health disparities in communities of color. However, the devastation caused by COVID-19 calls for a reexamination of the practice of community-engaged research. Syndemic framework characterizes the clustering and synergistic interactions between two or more diseases amid an underlay of social and environmental threats. This framework has been used to explain the disproportionately higher rates of COVID-19 in communities of color and may have utility in guiding future community-engaged research.
Objectives: This paper describes the process by which a syndemic framework was used to generate discussions on lessons learned from COVID-19 and describes the ensuing collaborative writing process that emerged from this discourse.
Methods: This paper was developed by the Community Engagement Working Group (CEWG) of the Jackson Heart Study (JHS), a community-based epidemiologic study focused on cardiovascular disease among African Americans in the Jackson, Mississippi Metropolitan Area. By drawing upon a syndemic framework and lessons from COVID-19, the CEWG identified gaps and opportunities to enhance community-engaged research.
Conclusions: Using syndemic framework as a starting point, the CEWG identified the following as aspects of community-engaged research that may warrant further consideration: 1) the need to examine multiple dimensions and assets of a community, 2) the need to view communities through an intersectionality lens, 3) the need to acknowledge the impact of historical and current trauma on the community, and 4) the need to provide support to community-engaged researchers who may be members of minoritized groups themselves and therefore, experience similar trauma.