Perhaps the defining characteristics of community-based participatory research (CBPR) are that it takes place in community settings and is directly shaped by insights from people in those settings (see, Strand, 2003). In their explanation, Sanchez et al. (2021) state: “The furthest point on the CEnR [community-engaged research] continuum, shared leadership, is where CBPR [community-based participatory research] resides, implying strong bidirectional and equitable relationship between researchers with communities” (p. 2, osanriginal emphasis). Following these explanations, insofar as they also are characterized by equitable inclusion of diverse context expert perspectives, community-engaged research and KMb can be understood as umbrella terms for a range of activities that fall under this broader category. Check out this online resource for a brief overview of defining aspects of action research and community-based participatory research from San Francisco State University.

Now, check out these online resources for more in-depth discussions of the main principles of community-based participatory research as well as benefits and drawbacks of various these models:a person with a cell phone

As elsewhere in this module, a key point to emerge from these learning resources is that CBPR — including various community engagement efforts — is intended to build and strengthen community-university relationships and related capacities to support co-creation of rigorous, evidence-based knowledge (including — ideally — project inputs, processes, and outcomes) that is aligned with community-level needs, wants, and definitions 37 38 39 40 41.

To help you to further consider advantages and challenges associated with CBPR, read these open-access academic journal articles:

Rasmus, S. M. (2014). Indigenizing CBPR: Evaluation of a Community-Based and Participatory Research Process Implementation of the Elluam Tungiinun (Towards Wellness) Program in Alaska. American Journal of Community Psychology, 54 (1/2), 170-179. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1007/s10464-014-9653-3

  • This author outlines an evaluation of a CBPR project within an indigenous community and discusses community perceptions of the CBPR process — from implementation, involvement, ownership, outcomes and challenges. The results of the evaluation described in this article reveal four themes that were key for the CBPR project’s success — (1) process development, (2) community participation, (3) partnership and (4) ownership. The main challenges to CBPR cited within this example were language barriers, inclusiveness, and maintaining involvement (p. 10). The author discusses how outcomes of the CBPR project appear to extend “well beyond the manifest ‘outcome’ variables related” (p. 13) to the project in areas such as “ increases in intergenerational interaction, conflict resolution, communication in families, empowerment of the Elders, and overall contributed to a more open and connected social climate in the community” (p. 13). These findings were related to broader community-based outcomes and taken to suggest that “the value of conceptualizing and assessing CBPR outcomes as involving effects that ripple across multiple levels and many aspects of community life” (p. 13).

person writing on chalkboardRoura, Maria, Sonia Dia, Joseph W, LeMaster & Anne McFarlene (2021). Participatory health research with migrants: Opportunities, challenges, and ways forward. Health Expectations  24(2): 188-197. Retrieved from https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/hex.13201

  • Drawing on related literature, the authors highlight five opportunities and five challenges associated with conducting health research with migrants.

Taken together, the resources presented in this module section support this assertion made by Sanchez et al. (2021, p. 11):

In sum, the CBPR Model as an implementation framework, with its corresponding tools, is grounded in authentic community participation and, through this participation, advancing social change and health equity, promoting emancipatory processes, and addressing power inequities. The Model and tools promote new ways of thinking and new opportunities for partnerships to address the underlying conditions that contribute to poor health and that need to be addressed, even as new protocols, practices, and programs are adopted.

Another important point that emerges from this module section is that, as a non-traditional approach to research that supports broad social action and change, community-based participatory research (and community-university partnerships more broadly) require increased and sustained institutional resources (see also, Allen et al. 2011; Beaulieu, Breton & Brousselle, 2018) as well as modified and consistent evaluation frameworks (see, Luger, Hamilton & True, 2020; Plummer et. al., 2021; Worton et al. 2017). We explore the topic of evaluation in more depth in a later module section. Before that, below is a short, curated, non-exhaustive list of resources to further support your CBPR and related community engagement and KMb learning and planning.

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