• Open Access

Assessing Research Interest and Capacity in Community Health Centers




Community health centers (CHCs) have great potential to participate in the development of evidence-based primary care but face obstacles to engagement in clinical translational research.


To understand factors associated with CHC interest in building research infrastructure, Harvard Catalyst and the Massachusetts League of Community Health Centers conducted an online survey of medical directors in all 50 Massachusetts CHC networks.


Thirty-two (64%) medical directors completed the survey representing 126 clinical sites. Over 80% reported that their primary care providers (PCPs) were slightly to very interested in future clinical research and that they were interested in building research infrastructure at their CHC. Frequently cited barriers to participation in research included financial issues, lack of research skills, and lack of research infrastructure. In bivariate analyses, PCP interest in future clinical research and a belief that involvement in research contributed to PCP retention were significantly associated with interest in building research infrastructure.


CHCs critical role in caring for vulnerable populations ideally positions them to raise relevant research questions and translate evidence into practice. Our findings suggest a high interest in engagement in research among CHC leadership. CTSAs have a unique opportunity to support local CHCs in this endeavor.