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B.R.I.D.G.E.S. Advisory Board Three Teams Overview

The Advisory Board also broke into three teams to ensure efficiency and to assure that its members had opportunities to contribute in areas where they could tap into their personal interests or strengths.

Each team reported back to the full Advisory Board at monthly Advisory Board meetings.  The teams were as follows:

  • External Communications Team

  • Focus Group and Analysis Team

  • CER Research Question Team

The Problem is that we are lacking voices from under-represented communities - individuals under-represented both in research and in community programs in the Salt Lake City area.

External Communications Team: The BRIDGES Advisory Board provided guidance and contributions to the development of an online presence and methods for outreach to the target population. It was decided to create a resource driven website, providing valuable local content to seniors age 60+ experiencing musculoskeletal limitations. The Advisory Board brainstormed over 100 key website words which were then sorted and researched.

A small sampling of key words includes: Conditions (ie. pain, joint, arthralgia, osteoarthritis, fatigue) Efficacy/Support (ie. quality of life, motivation, energy, community, incentives) Intervention (ie balance exercises, exercises for back pain, rehab therapy, movement), Issues (ie. pain management, maintaining independence, physical function active aging).

The website,, publishes stakeholder contributions including local programs, suggested articles and current research in PA for Seniors. The Website blog has posts indexed by keywords for the target audience. A Facebook page and twitter feed will re-post content alongside a targeted engagement campaign. Additional external communications includes electronic newsletter to inform potential partners about the project and a printed flyer encouraging patients to sign up to receive relevant website information.

Focus Group Team:  We held three focus groups, two with patient groups and one with community program leaders and health provider, to expand our understanding of the problem. The BRIDGES Advisory Board determined appropriate questions for the patient and stakeholder focus groups.  The focus groups produced invaluable feedback in the form of personal experience of patients and providers regarding supports for PA, barriers to PA, motivation to sustain PA and the role technology plays for seniors in finding resources.  Patients affirmed their desire for online resources particularly programs that facilitate social engagement as a means to support PA.  Analyzing the data gathered from patients in different demographic areas provides direction in designing research to measure the effectiveness of current programs as well as generate ideas for patient participation in identifying their desired outcomes for supports in sustaining their PA.  The focus groups that have been facilitated, transcribed and analyzed have provided a treasure trove of information.  The Advisory Board plans to complete 3 additional focus groups, transcribe and analyze them, and further flesh out the SWOT information from the patient perspective.

CER Research Question Team: This team has explored additional funding mechanisms that will support efforts to build on what has been learned. Our ultimate goal is to identify a meaningful comparative effectiveness research question that will examine effective strategies for sustaining physical activity in older adults with chronic MSK conditions. Throughout our process, we have discovered a lack of information and engagement from specific communities in the Salt Lake City Area. These communities have been under-represented in both the SHP and BRIDGES project. They also represent neighborhoods with lower participation in community exercise programs and with higher health needs. We suspect the supports for these individuals are different or less well developed, but without their voice, we do not know. The aim of this project is to bring these communities into the discussion so that the research we develop can be meaningful to communities that need it most.

The BRIDGES Advisory Board has learned a lot the past year.  Comments from the BRIDGES patient focus groups are invaluable.

  • It has learned how profoundly patient experience and expertise contributes to our knowledge.
  • It has learned that there are myriad unique and personal reasons why sustained physical activity presents such a challenge to older adults.
  • It has learned that there are varied and diverse methods that may inspire and support sustained physical activity in older adults. One size does not fit all.
  • It has learned that the social aspect in exercise and the feeling of being cared for by the providers are universal motivators.
  • It has learned that both patients and practitioners need to be trained – patients in self-advocacy and practitioners in ways to show “care.”

The Problem is that we are lacking voices from under-represented communities - individuals under-represented both in research and in community programs in the Salt Lake City area.

Part of this problem stems from a lack of knowledge. It is unclear how well opportunities to participate as stakeholders are promoted in our target communities. A community stakeholder on the BRIDGES Advisory Board has helped us identify need in these communities. Compared to stable or increasing participation trends at other Senior Centers in Salt Lake County, these three neighborhoods have a decline in participation. The demographics also differ. These neighborhoods have a greater mix of ethnicities, lower average retirement income, and lower density of medical providers.

During our BRIDGES project we also discovered that most people – even those with research experience or fancy educations - have limited skills in developing successful collaborations across diverse stakeholder groups. Many are asking: What is the purpose of my input? What is the end-point? How will we get there? In fact, it was only after a discussion about an online PCORI training in engagement with Chinenye Anyanwu that we realized how training in research engagement could have improved our stakeholder engagement from the start of our project.