Forums for Community Input

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 Engagement Studio. 

Studios give University of Minnesota investigators an efficient, free way to gather valuable feedback from patients, caregivers, family members, and other individuals.

Request a Community Engagement Studio

Meaningful insights to enhance your research

Community Engagement Studios are structured discussions where participants share their experiences and perspectives on a particular health research topic. 

It’s similar to a focus group, but isn’t intended for research and does not need IRB approval. A studio can help you: 

  • Address potential barriers or challenges, such as recruitment or retention.
  • Shape research questions, proposals or survey design.
  • Enhance study design, implementation, or dissemination strategies.
  • Obtain feedback on cultural and linguistic appropriateness of research study/patient educational materials.
  • Access community stakeholders and get an opportunity to build community partnerships.

Easy and free for researchers

No charge for UMN researchers.

Small time commitment.

No IRB approval needed.

"The CE Studio 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

What to expect

Our role

  • Plan the studio. We work with the researcher to organize the session and prepare a structured set of questions based on a 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.
  • Provide a facilitated discussion. An experienced facilitator leads the studio.
  • Compensate participants for their time. This is done at no expense to the researcher.
  • Provide a summary. This will include the studio’s major themes and takeaways, and will be sent to the researcher.

Researcher role

Community Engagement Studios require only a small amount of time for investigators. They typically spend less than five hours planning for and participating in a studio.

  • Support planning efforts. Attend two planning sessions: one with the Community Engagement Studio team and one with the facilitator.
  • Give an introduction. Provide a short introductory presentation to the participants.
  • Observe the studio. Listen to participants’ feedback and give clarification as needed.  
  • Complete follow-up surveys. Two online surveys are sent after the session.

A CE Studio is not:

  • Research
  • Community-based Participatory Research (CBPR)
  • Advisory Board
  • Recruiting Tool
  • Focus Group

Frequently asked questions

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

You may not use the CE Studio to recruit study subjects/participants. You may, however, share information regarding the study so that an expert can contact you or your research staff for more information outside of the Studio.

Can I pick or recommend specific experts to participate?

You may provide suggestions around avenues for recruitment. However, CTSI staff ultimately determines the recruitment process and venues and conducts the recruitment, which is a benefit of the CE Studio service for researchers and may broaden the representation of experts.

Why is there a facilitator? Can I facilitate myself?

The CE Studio utilizes a trained facilitator who has experience working with group processes and understands the principles of community engagement. The use of 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 CE Studios 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 Community Engagement Studios

Community Engagement Studios aim to promote and support community-engaged health research.

The model was originally developed by Vanderbilt University’s Institute for Clinical and Translational Research, and was featured in an Academic Medicine innovation report.


[email protected]
612-625-CTSI (2874)