My Internship: Preparing Research Data for the Community

By Audrey Barick

One of the key tenets of community based participatory research (CBPR) is disseminating research findings and information back into the community that you’re working with, which is where my internship working on the Speak To Your Health! Community Survey comes in.

At first glance, the work that I’ve been doing during my summer internship with the PRC-MI doesn’t seem that exciting. In fact, I spent a lot of time in front of a computer, typing numbers from one program into another. Once I was done with that, I spent more time repeating a series of clicks in order to make maps for almost every single question on the 2011 survey (over 100 maps in all!). But, all that typing of numbers and clicking was actually preparing the data tables and maps that get posted on the PRC-MI website and distributed to our community partners, giving the Genesee County community members a chance to see the results of the survey.

A first look at the 2011 Survey data was presented at the PRC-MI Symposium that was held in May, and after the presentation I remember someone in the audience asking, “So what?” Community partners in the audience chipped in and listed the various ways that they’ve used the data collected by the Survey in previous years in order to implement programs or make improvements. It was great to hear that people from Flint and Genesee County are actually using the data in order to better their communities.

The maps that I generated (remember that series of clicks?) are really cool. For me, the maps make it much easier to see trends and changes in the data from year to year. They are easy to read and just more fun to look at than a bunch of numbers in charts. My internship may not have involved working directly with community members or traveling abroad, but I know that the work that I’ve done is important to the mission of the Survey and has value for both the PRC-MI and the people of Flint and Genesee County.

A map showing the average scores for Fear of Crime in the 2011 Speak to your Health! community survey.

For more information about the Speak To Your Health! Community Survey and to request survey tables and maps, click here. 

Audrey Barick is a second year MPH student in the Health Behavior and Health Education Department. Before returning to school to pursue her Master’s degree, Audrey spent a year serving as an AmeriCorps volunteer at a health clinic serving low-income populations in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Her academic interests include women’s sexual and reproductive health, and she is currently considering in a career in human or reproductive rights.