Community-Based Participatory Research


Community-based participatory research (CBPR) is a "collaborative approach to research that equitably involves all partners in the research process and recognizes the unique strengths that each brings. CBPR begins with a research topic of importance to the community, has the aim of combining knowledge with action and achieving social change to improve health outcomes and eliminate health disparities."  WK Kellogg Foundation Community Health Scholars Program

At Community-Campus Partnerships for Health (CCPH), we promote a community-based participatory research (CBPR) paradigm in which community members and researchers collaborate to conduct research that builds capacity, leads to knowledge that directly benefits communities and influences policies that affect health. The conventional research paradigm confines communities to passive roles as “research subjects” and limits researchers’ ability to see the many factors that influence health. As a result, community strengths, ways of knowing, values and policy barriers are often hidden from view (Faces of Urban Health Forum, 2010).

Implementing this participatory paradigm in an authentic and equitable manner, however, is not easy to do and this is where we play a leadership role. Below we highlight the ways in which we support CBPR practitioners and help to advance CBPR as a field.

Please also consult our Resources pages for additional resources.

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Mobilize knowledge: Our CBPR listserv was created in 2004 as a vehicle for the growing network of people involved and interested in CBPR to share their knowledge and experience. It has since grown to over 4,800 subscribers from community, academic, government, philanthropic and other settings. In addition to the usual postings of news items such as conferences and funding opportunities, what distinguishes the CBPR listserv is the commitment of subscribers to summarize and share the responses to the questions they post so that everyone can benefit from the information they gathered. A lively discussion in 2005 of “failures” in CBPR, for example, led to an issue of the Journal of Urban Health on the topic. If you have a question about any aspect of CBPR, by all means please feel free to contact us, but we also suggest you post your question on the CBPR listserv!

In response to subscriber feedback, two additional listservs have “spun off” from the main one: The CBPR Ethics listserv focuses on research ethics review and the ethical issues that arise in CBPR and the CBPR Jobs listserv regularly posts CBPR related fellowship and job opportunities.

CCPH conferences provide an opportunity to deepen your knowledge in CBPR through skill-building workshops, posters, exhibits and community site visits, not to mention the many informal opportunities to consult with experienced CBPR practitioners from around the world.

Provide training and technical assistance: Our evidence-based online curriculum, Developing and Sustaining CBPR Partnerships has proven to be an enduring and popular resource since its launch in 2005. We also provide on-site CBPR training and technical assistance through the CCPH Consultancy Network, drawing on the curriculum or on new content tailored to an organization’s particular needs. If you are looking for a CBPR expert to give a presentation, lead a workshop, or provide consultation, contact us today!

Conduct research: Our research helps to identify CBPR benefits, facilitators, challenges and best practices that we widely share through peer-reviewed papers and practical products:

  • Promising Practices: Community Engagement in Research Funding Announcements and Peer Review Criteria: This report examines the critical role that funding agencies can play in supporting community-engaged research. We analyzed 44 requests for applications from 22 funders to identify exemplary community engagement language, peer review criteria and funding mechanisms.  
  • A Realist Review of CBPR: This international collaborative study led by Participatory Research at McGill is uncovering the benefits of CBPR through an innovative realist review methodology
  • Examining Community-Institutional Partnerships for Prevention Research: This 4-year project (2002-2006) funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention produced a journal article and an online skill-building CBPR curriculum.
  • Infrastructure Requirements for Community-University Partnerships for Health Research: This project (2005) funded by the Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research produced a paper that informed National Institutes of Health policy on CBPR. 
  • Communities as Partners on Cancer Clinical Trials: This 3-year project (2006-2009) in partnership with the Education Network to Advance Cancer Clinical Trials funded by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality and the National Cancer Institute produced a report, executive summary, journal article, podcast interview and demonstration projects.

Visit our Research Ethics page for information on our studies of CBPR ethics.

Build coalitions: We incubate and participate in coalitions that help to strengthen the field of CBPR:

  • The Community Network for Research Equity & Impact aims to ensure that communities have a significant voice in decisions about research practice and policy, are true partners in research, and fully benefit from the knowledge gained through research. 
  • The CCPH-CTSA Member Interest Group is an effective mechanism for CCPH members who are passionate about community engagement in the National Institutes of Health’s Clinical and Translational Science Award program to regularly convene, learn from one another and have their collective voices heard. 
  • The CBPR Funders Interest Group is comprised of government funding agencies, philanthropies and other funders that are committed to advancing CBPR as a strategy for building community capacity and changing practice and policy that make a real difference in people's lives. 
  • Our partnership with the Community-Based Public Health Caucus of the American Public Health Association provides each organization’s members with enhanced opportunities for professional development, networking and advocacy. Members of each organization can join the other at a 10% discount dues.

Advocate for supportive policies: We advocate nationally for CBPR as a strategy for health equity and social justice and are often the only group to emphasize the needs and interests of communities and community-based organizations that engage in research. We have responded to U.S. federal government requests for comments on research peer review, needed research resources, funding priorities and ethics policies and submitted testimony to the NIH Council of Public Representatives. Through the CCPH-CTSA Member Interest Group, we have developed and shared policy positions on community engagement in the CTSA program with the National Institutes of Health and the Institute of Medicine. We have also authored editorials that help to advance our policy positions.