The data collection/data distribution center: building a sustainable African-American church-based research network.
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BACKGROUND: This article describes the Carolina-Shaw Partnership for the Elimination of Health Disparities efforts to engage a diverse group of Black churches in a sustainable network. OBJECTIVES: We sought to develop a diverse network of 25 churches to work with the Carolina-Shaw Partnership to develop sustainable health disparities research, education, and intervention initiatives. METHODS: Churches were selected based on location, pastoral buy-in, and capacity to engage. A purposive sampling technique was applied. LESSONS LEARNED: (1) Collecting information on the location and characteristics of churches helps to identify and recruit churches that possess the desired qualities and characteristics. (2) The process used to identify, recruit, and select churches is time intensive. (3) The time, energy, and effort required managing an inter-institutional partnership and engage churches in health disparities research and interventions lends itself to sustainability. CONCLUSIONS: The development of a sustainable network of churches could lead to successful health disparities initiatives.