Background: Engaging stakeholders in research carries the promise of enhancing the research relevance, transparency, and speed of getting findings into practice. By describing the context and functional aspects of stakeholder groups, like those working as community advisory boards (CABs), others can learn from these experiences and operationalize their own CABs. Our objective is to describe our experiences with diverse CABs affiliated with our community engagement group within our institution's Clinical Translational Sciences Award (CTSA). We identify key contextual elements that are important to administering CABs.

Methods: A group of investigators, staff, and community members engaged in a 6-month collaboration to describe their experiences of working with six research CABs. We identified the key contextual domains that illustrate how CABS are developed and sustained. Two lead authors, with experience with CABs and identifying contextual domains in other work, led a team of 13 through the process. Additionally, we devised a list of key tips to consider when devising CABs.

Results: The final domains include (1) aligned missions among stakeholders (2) resources/support, (3) defined operational processes/shared power, (4) well-described member roles, and (5) understanding and mitigating challenges. The tips are a set of actions that support the domains.

Conclusions: Identifying key contextual domains was relatively easy, despite differences in the respective CAB's condition of focus, overall mission, or patient demographics represented. By contextualizing these five domains, other research and community partners can take an informed approach to move forward with CAB planning and engaged research.