The goal of this study was to assess the utility of participatory needs assessment processes for continuous improvement of developing clinical and translational research (CTR) networks. Our approach expanded on evaluation strategies for CTR networks, centers, and institutes, which often survey stakeholders to identify infrastructure or resource needs, using the case example of the Great Plains IDeA-CTR Network. Our 4-stage approach (i.e., pre-assessment, data collection, implementation of needs assessment derived actions, monitoring of action plan) included a member survey (n = 357) and five subsequent small group sessions (n = 75 participants) to better characterize needs identified in the survey and to provide actionable recommendations. This participatory, mixed-methods needs assessment and strategic action planning process yielded 11 inter-related recommendations. These recommendations were presented to the CTR steering committee as inputs to develop detailed, prioritized action plans. Preliminary evaluation shows progress towards improved program capacity and effectiveness of the network to respond to member needs. The participatory, mixed-methods needs assessment and strategic planning process allowed a wide range of stakeholders to contribute to the development of actionable recommendations for network improvement, in line with the principles of team science.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere69
JournalJournal of Clinical and Translational Science
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2021


  • Needs assessment
  • evaluation
  • participatory evaluation
  • stakeholder engagement
  • team science

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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