Unit 6: Disseminating the Results of CBPR
Section 6.1: Disseminating Results
Successful CBPR partnerships go beyond establishing an authentic partnership and conducting research. Once the CBPR partnership is functioning, the project has been implemented, and the data has been successfully collected and analyzed, the partnership must disseminate the results back to the community and other constituencies, and work together with a diverse group of stakeholders to apply the results through changes in practice and/or policy. Without dissemination and application, results of a CBPR partnership have little value to community partners.
Successful CBPR partnerships have the following characteristics with respect to disseminating and applying their research findings:
Involve all partners in the dissemination of information about the partnership and project findings in forms that all partners can understand and use. This dissemination includes multiple audiences (e.g., community members, policy makers, local health professionals) and multiple formats (e.g., radio, newspapers, presentations at professional meetings, handbooks, policy position papers, scientific journal articles), with all partners involved as co-authors and co-presenters as their interests and circumstances allow. This entails a commitment to raising and allocating resources for these purposes, including, for example, offering honoraria and child care for community members who would otherwise be unable to participate. It is also important to find a balance between time spent developing products that report results back to the community and time spent writing articles for publication in peer-reviewed journals.
While publishing the results of CBPR in peer-reviewed academic journals can bring attention and greater prestige to the work of the partnership and is essential to faculty promotion and/or tenure, it is not the primary outcome or vehicle for dissemination sought by community partners. The field of CBPR is growing and increasingly viewed as a legitimate form of scholarship within the academic community. There are literally dozens of peer-reviewed publications of high-quality CBPR, many that allow or encourage authorship or co-authorship by community partners See Unit 6 Resources for recent theme issues of journals on CBPR and a list of journals that regularly publish CBPR.
Establish and follow procedures for dissemination, including authorship and credit. CBPR partnerships need to establish and follow dissemination policies and procedures that address, for example, decisions about what messages are communicated, who will be involved, in what ways, and using what medium. Multiple partners need to be involved as co-authors of publications and co-presenters at meetings. Priority dissemination outlets need to include not only academic journal articles, but also the popular press, local community newsletters, radio, and TV stations that target audiences matching (or overlapping) those impacted by the research, as well as those who participated in the research. It is important to recognize that not all partners will be equally interested or skilled in writing journal articles or presenting at conferences, and not all partners will have equal ability to participate due to time, fiscal and organizational constraints. However, this should not preclude institutional partners from inviting community partners to take part in these activities, as sharing knowledge among partners builds capacity, and strengthens the overall partnership.
It is important to communicate with partners early on in the relationship, and develop written policies concerning how data will be disseminated and how credit will be given. Although it may seem unnecessary to address these questions in the beginning phases of a project, it is important that partnerships create such a policy early on. Once the data has been analyzed, individual partners may feel that they have liberty to disseminate results (through the media, academic journals, community members, etc.) with their group’s particular spin and credits. Such actions have the potential to undermine the partnership altogether.
Disseminate and translate research findings for policy change. Partnerships need to disseminate and translate research findings to educate policymakers about the policy implications of their work. Some of the strategies for accomplishing this can include: developing ongoing relationships with policymakers and their staff, developing a policy agenda for the partnership, and creating and disseminating policy briefs that reflect the key issues, findings and recommendations for action. It may be necessary for all partners to participate in training activities related to the policymaking process on how to create policy briefs and how to advocate for policy and systems change.
Disseminate partnership “lessons learned” to benefit new and emerging CBPR partnerships. Partnerships should share the wisdom they have developed through shared experiences over time, and less obvious but no less powerful, beliefs about what hinders or encourages partnerships. As with all research, there is a publication bias towards reporting positive results and few rewards in the world of funding or academe for those whose reports include the proverbial “dirty laundry”. However, we must find appropriate avenues for sharing this information. At the same time, it is critical that partnerships consider the impact of the findings on the community and the community’s policy objectives.