Cultural-Variant Approach to Community-Based Participatory Research: New Ideas for Family Professionals

By Henderson, Tammy L.; Shigeto, Aya et al. | Family Relations, October 2017 | Go to article overview

Cultural-Variant Approach to Community-Based Participatory Research: New Ideas for Family Professionals


Henderson, Tammy L., Shigeto, Aya, Ponzetti, James J., Jr., Edwards, Anne B., Stanley, Jessica, Story, Chandra, Family Relations


Expanding the traditional community-based participatory research (CBPR) model, the culturalvariant community-based participatory research (CV-CBPR) model provides a methodology that fosters socially conscious community engagement. The CV-CBPR model also promotes an understanding of how sociopolitical, historical, economic, and contextual factors influence individual, family, and community development and addresses the intersections of race, class, gender, age, and other "isms" of society. The journey toward translational family science may be furthered when a cultural-variant perspective is placed explicitly at the center of CBPR methods and applied at every level of a community-engaged project. The CV-CBPR model shifts focus away from a mere conceptualization of cultural competence and sensitivity toward a more explicit application of inclusive practices; it institutionalizes respect for culture, traditions, and adaptive behaviors of a group. Compared with the CBPR approach, this model offers a more specific conceptual and methodological guideline to apply a cultural-variant view to community engagement and a heightened level of socially conscious and ethical practice in CBPR projects. CBPR researchers engaged in CBPR largely have focused on community engagement (for examples, see Israel, Eng, Schulz, & Parker, 2013; Minkler & Wallerstein, 2008); we focus on the deliberate ways to understand family and community development by placing culture, inclusiveness, and social justice at the core of the work.

The CV-CBPR model provides family science professionals an opportunity to further exhibit cultural sensitiveness when conducting basic family science. The CV-CBPR model provides an opportunity to advance translational science, which refers to research aimed at removing obstacles to wellness, health promotion, and overall health of citizens by using unique holistic perspectives born from the synthesis of multiple disciplinary perspectives (National Center for Advancing Translational Science, n.d.; Woolf, 2008).

The CV-CBPR model emerged over time from a community-engaged study with two sample groups of older adults. The first sample consisted of survivors displaced by Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans and the surrounding areas, as well as long-term residents in the receiving city of Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Alaska Native grandparents rearing grandchildren made up the second sample. The CBPR study with Alaska Native grandparents rearing grandchildren inspired the creation of the CV-CBPR approach, unmasking the interpretations of arctic, Alaska Native family members about whom little is known: Alaska Native grandparents. These chosen studies, which will be described in greater depth later, each involved diverse yet vulnerable populations and also faced many unexpected conditions of a disaster and arctic climate living.

DIVERSE MODELS OF COMMUNITY-FOCUSED AND TRANSLATIONAL RESEARCH

Professionals have used several models of community engagement and action-oriented research to enhance human, family, and community development. Community-based research is an umbrella term referring to any study or project that involves communities, and this involvement has a variety of applications. Stoecker (2009) suggested that community-based research typically has two components: participation and action. Community-wide research (e.g., Perry, Klepp, & Sillers, 1989; Perry et al., 1993) is certainly a type of community-based research, but this type of research emphasizes neither participation nor action in its methods.

Community-centered research focuses on participation. It values practice or intervention through community participation more than the outcome (Flaspohler, Duffy, Wandersman, Stillman, & Maras, 2008). The starting point is the assessment of community strengths and needs, which facilitates community involvement throughout program design and implementation. Because of its emphasis on community participation, community-centered research can also be referred to as participatory research (Cornwall & Jewkes, 1995; Maguire, 1987). …

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