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      Enhancing Veteran Community Reintegration Research (ENCORE): Protocol for a Mixed Methods and Stakeholder Engagement Project


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          Veteran community reintegration (CR) has been defined as participation in community life, including employment or other productive activities, independent living, and social relationships. Veteran CR is a Veterans Health Administration priority, as a substantial proportion of veterans report difficulties with veteran CR following discharge from military service.


          Enhancing Veteran Community Reintegration Research (ENCORE) is a project funded by Veterans Health Administration’s Health Service Research and Development Service. The goal of ENCORE is to maximize veteran and family reintegration by promoting innovative research and knowledge translation (KT) that informs and improves equitable Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) policies, programs, and services. Overall, 2 strategic objectives guide ENCORE activities: mobilize veteran CR research and promote innovation, relevance, and acceleration of veteran CR research and KT.


          ENCORE uses a mixed methods and stakeholder-engaged approach to achieve objectives and to ensure that the KT products generated are inclusive, innovative, and meaningful to stakeholders. Project activities will occur over 5 years (2019-2024) in 5 phases: plan, engage, mobilize, promote, and evaluate. All activities will be conducted remotely owing to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Methods used will include reviewing research funding and literature examining the gaps in veteran CR research, conducting expert informant interviews with VA program office representatives, and assembling and working with a Multistakeholder Partnership (MSP). MSP meetings will use external facilitation services, group facilitation techniques adapted for virtual settings, and a 6-step group facilitation process to ensure successful execution of meetings and accomplishment of goals.


          As of December 2022, data collection for ENCORE is ongoing, with the team completing interviews with 20 stakeholders from 16 VA program offices providing veteran CR–related services. ENCORE developed and assembled the MSP, reviewed the VA funding portfolio and veteran CR research literature, and conducted a scientific gap analysis. The MSP developed a veteran CR research agenda in 2021 and continues to work with the ENCORE team to prepare materials for dissemination.


          The goal of this program is to improve the impact of veteran CR research on policies and programs. Using a stakeholder-engaged process, insights from key stakeholder groups are being incorporated to set a research agenda that is more likely to result in a relevant and responsive veteran CR research program. Future products will include the development of an effective and relevant dissemination plan and the generation of innovative and relevant dissemination products designed for rapid KT.

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          Matrix analysis as a complementary analytic strategy in qualitative inquiry.

          In the current health care environment, researchers are asked to share meaningful results with interdisciplinary professional audiences, concerned community members, students, policy makers, planners, and financial officers. Emphasis is placed on effective health care outcomes and evidence, especially for underserved and vulnerable populations. Any research strategy that facilitates the clear, accurate communication of findings and voices will likely benefit groups targeted for intervention with scarce resources. In this example, matrix analysis contributes to the display, interpretation, pragmatic evaluation, and dissemination of findings in a study of rural elders. The author proposes matrix analysis as a strategy to advance knowledge and enhance the development of evidence in qualitative research.
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            Despite the growing demand for research that engages stakeholders, there is limited evidence in the literature to demonstrate its value - or return on investment. This gap indicates a general lack of evaluation of engagement activities. To adequately inform engagement activities, we need to further investigate the dividends of engaged research, and how to evaluate these effects. This paper synthesizes the literature on hypothesized impacts of engagement, shares what has been evaluated and identifies steps needed to reduce the gap between engagement's promises and the underlying evidence supporting its practice. This assessment provides explicit guidance for better alignment of engagement's promised benefits with evaluation efforts and identifies specific areas for development of evaluative measures and better reporting processes.
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              Carrying Out Rapid Qualitative Research During a Pandemic: Emerging Lessons From COVID-19

              Social scientists have a robust history of contributing to better understandings of and responses to disease outbreaks. The implementation of qualitative research in the context of infectious epidemics, however, continues to lag behind in the delivery, credibility, and timeliness of findings when compared with other research designs. The purpose of this article is to reflect on our experience of carrying out three research studies (a rapid appraisal, a qualitative study based on interviews, and a mixed-methods survey) aimed at exploring health care delivery in the context of COVID-19. We highlight the importance of qualitative data to inform evidence-based public health responses and provide a way forward to global research teams who wish to implement similar rapid qualitative studies. We reflect on the challenges of setting up research teams, obtaining ethical approval, collecting and analyzing data in real-time and sharing actionable findings.

                Author and article information

                JMIR Res Protoc
                JMIR Res Protoc
                JMIR Research Protocols
                JMIR Publications (Toronto, Canada )
                14 March 2023
                : 12
                : e42029
                [1 ] Research and Development Service James A Haley Veterans Hospital and Clinics Tampa, FL United States
                [2 ] Department of Anthropology College of Arts and Sciences University of South Florida Tampa, FL United States
                [3 ] Department of Rehabilitation & Mental Health Counseling University of South Florida Tampa, FL United States
                Author notes
                Corresponding Author: Bridget Hahm Bridget.Hahm@ 123456va.gov
                Author information
                ©Karen Besterman-Dahan, Bridget Hahm, Margeaux Chavez, Jacquelyn Heuer, Christine Melillo, Jason Lind, Christina Dillahunt-Aspillaga, Lisa Ottomanelli. Originally published in JMIR Research Protocols (https://www.researchprotocols.org), 14.03.2023.

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work, first published in JMIR Research Protocols, is properly cited. The complete bibliographic information, a link to the original publication on https://www.researchprotocols.org, as well as this copyright and license information must be included.

                : 19 August 2022
                : 12 September 2022
                : 22 November 2022
                : 22 December 2022

                veteran,community,community reintegration,stakeholder engagement,veterans community integration,veteran health administration,knowledge translation,research promotion,veterans association policy,policy


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