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Community-Based Participatory Research

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Full Title: Community-Based Participatory Research: Assessing the Evidence

August 2004

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Structured Abstract

Objectives: To systematically review the literature on health-related community-based participatory research (CBPR), which combines methods of scientific inquiry with community capacity-building strategies; CBPR aims to bridge the gap between knowledge produced through research and practices used in communities to improve health. The researchers addressed the following key questions (KQs):

  1. What defines CBPR?
  2. How has CBPR been implemented to date with regard to the quality of research methodology and community involvement?
  3. What is the evidence that CBPR efforts have resulted in the intended outcomes?
  4. What criteria and processes should be used for review of CBPR in grant proposals?

Data Sources: For KQs 1-4, searching standard electronic databases (MEDLINE®, Cochrane Collaboration resources, Psycinfo, and Sociofile) for all years, by use of specified Medical Subject Headings terms; hand-searching reference lists of relevant articles from a forthcoming special journal issue. For KQ 4, reviewing Web sites for funding agencies and interviews with Federal agency staff.

Review Methods: For KQ 1, peer-reviewed articles were chosen that synthesized the evolution of, values for, or lessons learned from collaborative research. For KQ 2 and 3, peer-reviewed CBPR studies published in the English language, conducted in the United States and Canada, and with at least one community collaborator were included. Separate abstraction forms were created for KQs 1-3. Articles were rated for quality, and to assess each study's research methods and adherence to CBPR principles of community collaboration

Results: Sixty CBPR studies were identified. Of the 30 intervention studies, 12 had been completed and evaluated. Quality ratings for these suggested stronger research scores for the experimental studies than for the others, although nonexperimental studies also showed modest effects on health outcomes. Quality ratings for community participation were strongest for recruitment/retention and intervention design, followed by development and pilot testing of measures. Steering committees or advisory boards were the main mechanisms for sharing research decisionmaking, but these did not generally develop research questions or proposals.

The number of high-quality CBPR publications has increased recently, possibly reflecting more targeted funding and special journal issues on CBPR.

Conclusions: Many CBPR studies had strong community-institution collaborations; relatively few combined this type of collaboration with solid research methods. The researchers drew on their synthesis of this literature to produce guidelines to assist funding agencies and grant applicants and reviewers in achieving the best balance of rigorous research and optimal collaboration among communities and institutions, thereby improving the quality of and funding for CBPR.

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Community-Based Participatory Research: Assessing the Evidence

Evidence-based Practice Center: Research Triangle Institute/University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (RTI/UNC-CH)
Topic Nominators: National Cancer Institute, Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences, and the National Institute of Health's Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences

Current as of August 2004


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