Individual wellness is linked to the well-being of our society, including the environments in which we live, work, and play. In our community lab, we are committed to social improvement. We believe social improvement efforts need to be of, by, and for the community. Our work involves collaborating with students, researchers, and community members to cultivate a more equitable, healthy and compassionate society that promotes justice. Using an ecological perspective nested in the fields of implementation and improvement science, we study the relationship between individuals and their environments to understand the complexity and determinants of individual and organizational improvement. What hinders, postpones, and propels improvement? How can we give research “feet” so that it can be more useful in community settings? Our laboratory is the real-world. Our work is highly applied and action-oriented. We take what we learn from research and give it back to the community to improve the status quo. We use a capacity building orientation and believe that "one's grasp is farther than the reach." (Click here to see some cool stick figures and to learn more about our philosophy to capacity building.) Our broad mission is to promote collective wellness (i.e., wellness of all individuals and communities). Within this mission, we are particularly committed to promoting health equity and reducing health disparities.
We are currently involved in three major areas of action-research:
HEALTH SYSTEMS CHANGE
When thinking about systems according to Bronfenbrenner's ecological perspective, there are a variety of systems in which we can imbue change. Many of our projects are concerned with change at the exosystem-level (i.e., health and social services) and macrosystem-level (i.e., public policy).
Core to our lab is integrated care, a patient-centered approach to addressing the mental and physical health needs of a individuals involving collaboration among mental health and other healthcare services. It is a promising approach for reducing health disparities.
In addition, enacting change at the macrosystem-level through research and advocacy is a salient pursuit for many of our lab members. Many of us study how health is impacted by "little p" policy (e.g., for local institutions/organizations) and "big p" Policy (e.g., state and national policy) and strive to apply what we learn in our personal and professional advocacy work.
RESEARCH AND PRACTICE OF IMPLEMENTATION SCIENCE
Health service organizations play a critical role in the goal of advancing health equity, and therefore we work closely with health service organizations. While health service organizations are key locations to host health-promoting programs, implementation of these programs is extremely complex. To address this complexity, the field of implementation science proposes and tests methods and strategies to promote the adoption of and fidelity to evidence-based practices.
To increase the utility of implementation science best-practices, implementation scientists have been tasked with adapting methodology to practice, thus ensuring it is feasible for the organization. This is where our lab fits in. We aim to bridge research and practice by offering implementation supports to health service organizations. Implementation supports include the development and administration of tools, training, technical assistance, and quality assurance/quality improvement.
Among the implementation supports offered by our lab, we specialize in building organizational readiness.
COMMUNITY BUILDING AND HEALING
In addition to engendering change at the exosystem and macosystem-level, we relish in the great power spawned from human connection (re: microsystem). As the name of our lab indicates, we have always believed in the ability of collective action to promote wellness. However, an emerging pursuit of the lab is to explore how facilitating human connection may promote healing both intrapersonally and interpersonally. One such method to promote this connection is through healing circles. Currently, we are piloting the use of listening circles in a number of projects. As we continue to develop projects aligned with this domain, we warmly invite you to share your ideas with us if you have expertise or interest in this pursuit.