By: Joslyn Cassano | Published: December 14, 2022
A human research protections training course that launched this month in Haitian Creole is making it easier for members of South Florida’s Haitian community to collaborate with academic researchers on projects directly impacting them.
CIRTification (Community Involvement in Research Training), developed by University of Illinois, Chicago (UIC) professor Emily E. Anderson, Ph.D., MPH, director of the Regulatory Support and Knowledge Core at the Center for Clinical and Translational Science (CCTS), is modeled after the CITI human subjects research program.
Human subjects research training is required for all scientists and researchers who want to work with human subjects, but the training is lengthy and written for an academic audience. This can be daunting even for those who work in biomedical fields, and it’s an even greater barrier for those community members and community-based organizations who are not affiliated with a medical center.
CIRTification delivers the information necessary to prepare a person to conduct research, but in a more palatable and engaging way, using lay language.
Originally designed as an in-person course, the English version of CIRTification went online in early 2020, followed by the Spanish version in 2021. Topics covered by the program include research history, recruitment, informed consent, and data collection.
With support from the Office of the Vice Provost for Research + Scholarship (OVPRS), the Miami CTSI worked with Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center’s Behavioral and Community-Based Research Shared Resource (BCSR) team and the technology services team at the UIC CCTS to create the program’s newest version in Haitian Creole.
“CIRTification has created the requisite flexibility for community partners to responsibly participate in human subject research in a more practical way. The feedback we’ve received thus far is very positive,” says Kenia Viamonte, director of Human Subject Research at the University of Miami.
Haitian Creole is the third most commonly spoken language in Florida. Miami-Dade County has the highest percentage of Haitian Creole speakers of any county in the United States, making the availability of research resources in Haitian Creole critical for equitable local representation in research.
“Anybody who is on a research team needs to be educated on research processes,” says CTSI project manager Jessica Diaz Guerra. “When everyone is aware of how to conduct research in an ethical manner, it ensures the safety of research participants.”
The goal is to have community members engaged in research at every stage of the research process, from the planning stages to research implementation, such as obtaining informed consent and collecting data.
“Researchers must have linguistically and culturally appropriate materials for research training. This initiative is essential to conducting valid and relevant research to address health disparities in our Haitian American community,” says Associate Dean for Research at the UM School for Nursing and Health Studies, Victoria Behar-Zusman, Ph.D., who is a health disparities research expert and chair of the UM Social Behavioral Science Institutional Review Board.
CIRTification is now recognized by about 40 universities, including the University of Miami. Dr. Anderson’s team at UIC continues to focus on the expansion of the program.
“It is critical for UIC to partner with other universities like the University of Miami to expand CIRTification so the program can reach as many communities as possible, especially those already engaging in research and working with academic partners,” says Dr. Anderson. “The process of translation can also serve as a model for other languages that can be used by community partners in the U.S. and around the world.”
The Miami CTSI hopes CIRTification will strengthen the ties between academic researchers and the communities informing and being impacted by their research. “It’s education that will hopefully be passed through the community,” says Diaz Guerra. “If one person understands what goes on in research and how it’s conducted, it could potentially help increase trust throughout the community.”