Science cafés: engaging scientists and community through health and science dialogue

Clin Transl Sci. 2014 Jun;7(3):196-200. doi: 10.1111/cts.12153. Epub 2014 Apr 9.


Engagement of the community through informal dialogue with researchers and physicians around health and science topics is an important avenue to build understanding and affect health and science literacy. Science Cafés are one model for this casual interchange; however the impact of this approach remains under researched. The Community Engagement Key Function of the Clinical and Translational Science Institute of Southeast Wisconsin hosted a series of Science Cafés in which topics were collaboratively decided upon by input from the community. Topics ranged from Personalized Medicine to Alzheimer's and Dementia to BioMedical Innovation. A systematic evaluation of the impact of Science Cafés on attendees' self-confidence related to five health and scientific literacy concepts showed statistically significant increases across all items (Mean differences between mean retrospective pre-scores and post-scores, one tailed, paired samples t-test, n=141, p<.0001 for all items). The internal consistency of the five health and scientific literacy items was excellent (n=126, α=0.87). Thematic analysis of attendees' comments provides more nuance about positive experience and suggestions for possible improvements. The evaluation provides important evidence supporting the effectiveness of brief, casual dialogue as a way to increase the public's self-rated confidence in health and science topics.

Keywords: community engagement; evaluation; literacy (science/health); measurement; scientists; translational research.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Biomedical Research*
  • Community-Based Participatory Research
  • Community-Institutional Relations*
  • Female
  • Health Literacy
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Translational Research, Biomedical*
  • Wisconsin
  • Young Adult