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Community input in the formation of Rachel Dunifon’s Role of Grandparents study

August 28, 2012

Rachel Dunifon’s research program, The Role of Grandparents in the Lives of Adolescent Grandchildren, would not have come about if it weren’t for the Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE) Educators with whom she works in her parenting program. They are the ones who made Dr. Dunifon aware of the prevalence of grandparent-headed households, who told compelling stories about the families in their communities who are in this situation, and who made her realize what a rich area this would be for research. Based on the knowledge Dunifon gained from the field, she embarked on a multi-year research project, funded by the William T. Grant Foundation, on grandparents raising grandchildren. Dunifon worked with CCE and other community educators to develop the research questions, to bring together focus groups to increase her knowledge of the issues facing such families, to pilot test study instruments, and to recruit participants in the study. The interviews took place in CCE offices throughout the state. The cycle is ongoing as Dunifon is producing a series of fact sheets based on the results of her research, which can be used by educators in their work with families in which grandparents are raising grandchildren.

Receiving input from practitioners and community members to inform research is a crucial step in practicing translational research to insure the studies done are relevant in community settings. As shown by this example, connecting with community educators can raise awareness among researchers about important and relevant issues. The resulting research is then easily translated back into resources useful to the community, as it was developed based on community input from the start.

The fact sheets from this research can be found on this page.

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