Community-based participatory research

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The EnRRICH study has developed a community-based participatory research module (CBPR). The aim is to support academics with embedded CBPR in the curriculum. The modules include:  an introduction, research with community groups, exercises and scenarios, resources, and a reading list. The module aims to facilitate engagement between students and staff and focus on topics and research of interest to the community. This article defines community-based participatory research as:

 

a collaborative research approach that is designed to ensure and establish structures for participation by communities affected by the issue being studied, representatives of organizations, and researchers in all aspects of the research process to improve health and well?being through taking action, including social change

 

This article argues that better use of research evidence (one form of “knowledge”) in health systems requires partnerships between researchers and those who contend with the real-world needs and constraints of health systems. This study identified four themes in relation to CBPR: principles, structure, process and relationships, and three stakeholders: community stakeholder groups, researchers and decision makers. This article identifies the following principles of community-based research:

 

·      Recognises community as a unit of identity. Community is characterized by a sense of identification and emotional connection to other members, common symbol systems, shared values and norms, mutual—although not necessarily equal—influence, common interests, and commitment to meeting shared needs 

·       Builds on strengths and resources within the community 

·       Facilitates collaborative partnerships in all phases of the research Community-based research involves a collaborative partnership in which all parties participate as equal members and share control over all phases of the research process, e.g. problem definition, data collection, interpretation of results, and application of the results to address community concerns

·       Integrates knowledge and action for mutual benefit of all partners

·       Promotes a co-learning and empowering process that attends to social inequalities 

·       Involves a cyclical and iterative process Community-based research involves a cyclical, iterative process that includes partnership development and maintenance, community assessment, problem definition, development of research methodology, data collection and analysis, interpretation of data, determination of action and policy implications, dissemination of results, action taking (as appropriate), specification of learnings, and establishment of mechanisms for sustainability

·       Addresses health from both positive and ecological perspectives 

·       Disseminates findings and knowledge gained to all partner

Some of the benefits of CBPR are:

 

·       Enhances the relevance, usefulness, and use of the research data for all partners involved

·       Joins together partners with diverse skills, knowledge, expertise and sensitivities to address complex problems

·       Improves the quality and validity of research by engaging local knowledge and local theory based on the lived experience of the people involved 

·       Recognizes the limitations of the concept of a “value-free” science and encourages a self-reflexive, engaged and self-critical role of the researcher(s) 

·       Acknowledges that “knowledge is power”

·       Strengthens the research and program development capacity of the partners 

·       Creates theory that is grounded in social experience

·       Increases the possibility of overcoming the distrust of research on the part of communities

·       Has the potential to “bridge the cultural gaps that may exist” 

·       Overcomes the fragmentation and separation of the individual from his/her culture

 

 

 

 

 

 

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