Objectives: To provide an overview of the Community Health Fellowship Program (CHFP), describe the types of projects completed by the community health fellows from 2005 to 2009 and to assess the program's effectiveness from the perspective of fellows and community partners.
Methods: We developed the CHFP for training medical students in community-based participatory research (CBPR), and understanding the components of successful community partnerships for addressing health disparities in underserved communities. The program has didactic and applied community research components.
Results: From 2005 to 2009, fellows completed 25 research projects with 19 different community partners. Fellows reported favorable attitudes about the program, their mentors, and their community projects; their research knowledge increased significantly in most areas, especially their ability to develop a succinct research question, familiarity with CBPR, and delivering a formal research presentation (Wilcoxon signed-rank test, P <.05). Community partners reported favorable attitudes toward the fellows and the program; using a 5-point Likert scale (1 = not favorable, 5 = very favorable), they reported highly favorable attitudes about fellows' level of responsibility (4.85), level of cooperation (4.85), familiarity with the needs of the medically underserved (4.69), and knowledge of how to apply local solutions to health problems (4.54).
Conclusions: The CHFP has high favorability and support among fellows and community partners; the program can serve as a prototype for training future physicians in understanding and addressing the needs of the underserved, through community partnerships, and community-based participatory research.