Academic journal article Family Relations

Using Community-Based Participatory Research (CBPR) to Target Health Disparities in Families

Academic journal article Family Relations

Using Community-Based Participatory Research (CBPR) to Target Health Disparities in Families

Article excerpt

Community-based participatory research (CBPR) is an action research approach that emphasizes collaborative partnerships between community members, community organizations, health care providers, and researchers to generate knowledge and solve local problems. Although relatively new to the field of family social science, family and health researchers have been using CBPR for over a decade. This paper introduces CBPR methods, illustrates the usefulness of CBPR methods in families and health research, describes two CBPR projects related to diabetes, and concludes with lessons learned and strengths and weaknesses of CBPR.

Key Words: community and school connection, crosscultural issues, families and health/illness, health, research methodology.

Community-based participatory research (CBPR) is an action research approach that emphasizes collaborative partnerships between community members, community organizations, health care providers, and researchers to generate knowl- edge and solve local problems (Mendenhall & Doherty, 2005; Israel, Eng, Schulz, & Parker, 2005; Minkler & Wallerstein, 2003). Hierar- chical differences that typically arise between providers and patients are flattened through this partnership, and all participants work together to co-create knowledge and effect change throughout all aspects of the research process (Lewin, 1946; Mendenhall & Doherty, 2005). Each partner contributes unique strengths and knowledge to improve the health and well-being of community members (Israel et al.; Minkler & Wallerstein).

CBPR has gained increased credibility in health care (e.g., medicine, nursing) and public health since the early 1 990s because of its potential to inform understanding of individuals' health-related experiences and inform the creation of workable and appropriate services (Heslop, Elsom, & Parker, 2000; Kovacs, 2000). CBPR has been used to address a wide variety of health issues in diverse communities, such as hospice access and use by African Americans, mental health services for impoverished Hmong women, health audits, smoking cessation, primary care and diabetes management, dental and mouth-care practices, management of preoperative fasting, patient problem-solving skills, patient and practitioner satisfaction, patientpractitioner communication, and a number of other significant health care issues (de Amorim & Cavalcante, 1992; Hampshire, Blair, Crown, Avery, & Williams, 1999; Lindsey & McGuinness, 1998; McGarvey, 1993; McKibbin & Castle, 1996; Reese, Ahern, Nair, Faire, Warren, 1999; Yoshihama & Carr, 2002). Despite growth in other disciplines, CBPR is not widely used in family science research. Thus, the purpose of this paper is to introduce CBPR methods, illustrate the usefulness of CBPR methods in families and health research, describe two CBPR projects related to diabetes, and to conclude with lessons learned and both strengths and weaknesses of CBPR.

Several key tenets permeate CBPR projects (Israel et al., 2005; Mendenhall & Doherty, 2003, 2005; Minkler & Wallerstein, 2003). First, CBPR acknowledges the community as a unit of identity in which all partners have membership. Second, CBPR emphasizes democratic partnerships between all project members as collaborators through every stage of knowledge and intervention development. Third, CBPR requires a deep investment in change that carries with it an element of challenging the status quo, improving the lives of members in a community, and attending to social inequalities. Fourth, CBPR builds on strengths and resources within the community in order to address local concerns and solve relevant problems. Fifth, CBPR uses a cyclical process in which a problem is identified, solutions are developed within the context of the community's existing resources, interventions are implemented, outcomes are evaluated, and interventions are modified in accord with new information as necessary. …

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