Community Health Authentic Talk Sessions

A group of people seated in a circle have a discussion and hold notebooks while a facilitator stands and listens

Receive input on your study from those impacted by a specific health issue with the help of a Community Health Authentic Talk (CHAT) Session. 

Meaningful insights to enhance your research

CHAT sessions are virtual conversations which elevate and center the lived experiences of community members to assist researchers in their health-related research.

  • To formulate a research question the community is also interested in.
  • To inform how researchers can conduct their work in culturally appropriate ways.
  • To identify ways or best practices to share the research with community members.

Easy and free for researchers

Free for community-based and UMN researchers.

Small time commitment.

No IRB approval needed.

The ideal researcher

  • Is interested in a bi-directional conversation with community members to inform their research.
  • Has a research project in mind and is interested in hearing community member perspectives on how to plan and implement it.
  • Expresses interest in engaging with communities to create and carry out research as well as share results, or in having authentic, transparent research partnerships built on trust and accountability.


  • Community-based researchers, such as members of a Minnesota-based community organization (e.g., non-profits, local public health, community clinics, neighborhood associations, tribal governments)
  • UMN researchers who are an assistant, associate, or full professor, post-doctoral associate/fellow, or a PhD research associate from any UMN campus.

Get started

  1. Fill out an intake form. This is not an application, but allows us to best assist you.
  2. We will review your response and follow up within 24 hours. Next steps may include moving on to set up a CHAT session, referrals to CTSI services and resources, a consultation with CEARCH staff, or sharing additional resources that may better fit your needs.

Fill out an intake form

What to expect

Our role

  • Plan the CHAT Session. We work with researchers and our CHAT facilitators to coordinate the session and prepare a set of key questions based on the researcher’s topic and population of interest. 
  • Recruit community experts. The participants may include patients, family members/caregivers, advocates, residents, or others impacted by a given health issue. 
  • Host a facilitated conversation. A CHAT facilitator leads the CHAT session.
  • Compensate community experts. This is done at no expense to the researcher. 
  • Provide a summary report. This will include the CHAT Session’s major themes and takeaways, which will be sent to the researchers.

Researcher Role

CHAT Sessions require only a small amount of time for researchers. They typically spend less than five hours planning for and participating in a CHAT Session. 

  • Support planning efforts. Attend one planning meeting, which will last approximately one hour, with CEARCH staff and a CHAT facilitator. 
  • Provide background information. Create a 1-2 page summary of your research topic that will be shared with community experts (aka the participants) prior to the CHAT session. 
  • Actively listen. During the CHAT session, listen to community experts and give clarifications as needed. 
  • Complete evaluations. Two evaluations will be sent after the CHAT session, one immediately afterwards and a one-year post CHAT evaluation.

A CHAT Session is not

  • Intended for research. 
  • An advisory board.
  • Intended for recruitment or to be used as a recruitment tool. 
  • A focus group. 

"The [CHAT session] allowed me the opportunity to gain insights about how community members of local ethnic minorities view medical care for rare complex diseases and the participants provided invaluable commentary on how to optimize my educational priorities and community outreach."

—Alexander Boucher, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Pediatrics, Medical School

Frequently asked questions

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Can I recruit the experts from the CHAT session to participate in my study?

You may not use the CHAT session to recruit study participants. You may, however, share information about the study so an expert can contact you or your research staff for more information outside of the CHAT Session.

Can I pick or recommend specific experts to participate?

You may provide suggestions about who to recruit. However, CTSI staff ultimately determines the recruitment process and venues and conducts the recruitment, which is a benefit of the CHAT session for researchers and may broaden the representation of experts.

Why is there a facilitator? Can I facilitate myself?

CHAT Sessions use a trained community facilitator who has experience working with group processes and understands the principles of community engagement. Using an independent facilitator allows a researcher to listen to feedback and ask for clarification without having the responsibility of leading the process.

Can the information from CHAT Sessions be used for research purposes or publication?

It depends on how you intend to use the information. It is acceptable to describe the process and the input that you received. However, because the community experts are not research participants, you cannot provide details of who participated or analyze the input by any demographics.

More about CHAT sessions

The CHAT Session model is modified from Community Engagement Studios, which was originally developed by Vanderbilt University’s Institute for Clinical and Translational Research and was featured in an Academic Medicine innovation report.