Overview of Community-Based Participatory Research
STEVEN S. COUGHLIN, PHD, SELINA A. SMITH, PHD, MDIV,
AND MARIA E. FERNANDEZ, PHD
This chapter provides an introduction to community-based participatory research (CBPR), a collaborative approach to research that equitably involves all partners, including community members affected by the health topic being addressed, organizational representatives, and academic researchers, in the research process. This approach includes partnerships between academic and community organizations with the goal of increasing the value of the research product for all partners and sustaining its impact on population health. Community-based participatory research addresses health disparities and inequities in diverse communities including groups that are socially disadvantaged, marginalized, stigmatized, or that have suffered historical injustices. It takes into account the strengths and insights that community and academic partners bring to framing health problems and developing solutions. As illustrated throughout this volume, CBPR approaches have been used to address a wide variety of health topics, including environmental hazards, HIV/AIDS, maternal and child health, cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity, cigarette smoking, substance abuse, and mental health. The combination of experiences of community members with public health science provides a deeper understanding of complex social phenomena, thereby providing more relevant interventions and increasing the likelihood that the interventions will be effective and that they will be adopted, implemented, and sustained in real-world settings. The CBPR research paradigm represents a fundamental shift in academic researchers’ views of community residents, from patients and research subjects who may benefit from medical advances to essential partners who can energize their communities to develop and implement effective, sustainable interventions to improve health and eliminate health disparities.