Unintended Interviewer Bias in a Community-Based Participatory Research Randomized Control Trial among American Indian Youth


Unlike traditional survey interviews where an interviewer is hired and trained by a survey organization, community-based participatory research (CBPR) often starts from the community (study area and social group of interest), in some cases including hiring interviewers who are members of the community of interest. CBPR aims to alter power distributions between researchers and those who participate in the research (Minkler and Wallerstein 2008). That is, historically, research has been driven entirely from academic, governmental, or commercial institutions downward to the communities of interest. CBPR aims to genuinely incorporate community partners with research institutions in designing and conducting research studies. To this end, CBPR assumes that: (a) genuine partnerships means co-learning, (b) research efforts include capacity building, (c) findings and knowledge should benefit all partners, and (d) CBPR involves long-term commitments (Wallerstein and Duran 2006). In general, CBPR values and aims to incorporate all parties into the research project for a holistic outcome that promotes community health and pushes rigorous advancements in science. However, the use of CBPR opens questions about the introduction of unintended negative consequences to the overall study design, implementation, recruitment, and data quality. This chapter tests if differences in the privacy of an interview - some of which are directly related to CBPR practices - are associated with several key outcomes of an ongoing family-based and culturally adapted evidence- based substance use prevention program for American Indian pre-adolescents aged 8-10.

The benefits of a CBPR approach in the social and behavioral sciences are considerable. A 2004 Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality report on CBPR evidence found that 78% of studies that took a CBPR approach to health outcomes reported increased community capacity after the studies were conducted (Viswanathan, et al. 2004). Successful CBPR interventions have reduced health disparities while building capacity among the partnering community (Barlow, et al. 2014) and developed culturally appropriate prevention programs (Allen, et al. 2018). CBPR is a key factor in the ability of these programs to develop tailored and localized programs.

Although there is not a strict "gold standard" method of conducting CBPR, scholars have provided many insights on how meaningful collaborations can be enacted. One recommendation is to "build on the strengths and resources within the community" (Israel, et al. 2008). A common implementation of this advice is to employ local community members to assist in conducting research with the academic institutions. This can involve hiring local program facilitators (Ivanich, et al. 2020), interviewers (Sittner, Greenfield, and Walls

2018), research councils (Fong, Braun, and Tsark 2003), or a combination to build local partnerships. Employing local community members builds sustainability, increases capacity, allows for transparency, and opens dialogues of meaningful feedback learning between parties (Minkler and Wallerstein 2008).

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