The Effect of the Social Location in Community-Based Participatory Research

Friday, January 16, 2015: 10:00 AM-11:45 AM
Balconies N, Fourth Floor (New Orleans Marriott)
Cluster: Research Design and Measurement
Katie Schultz, MSW, University of Washington, Miriam Valdovinos, MA, University of Washington, Jordan P. Lewis, PhD, MSW, CPG, University of Washington, Ramona Beltran, PhD, University of Denver and Danica Love Brown, MSW, CACIII, Portland State University
Community-based participatory research (CBPR) is defined as a collaborative research approach with the goal of creating and maintaining equitable participation between all research partners including community members, stakeholder organizations, and investigators during all aspects of the research process. It recognizes and values the unique strengths and shared responsibilities of all research partners. Although researchers have established principles that capture key CBPR elements, these guidelines are not designed to address methodological issues that arise as more investigators are being trained and returning to their own communities to conduct research. This introduces new methodological considerations as we move from conventional researcher/researched relationships. This panel of American Indian, Alaska Native, and Indigenous presenters will share their experiences conducting research within their own communities.

Recent scholarship has examined the inherent complexity in social locations and identity and recognized that boundaries between insider/outsider positioning in communities is not easily delineated. Clear implications of social location in the research process remain unclear. When community members and researchers are from the same community, there may be concerns about the potential for bias in the research product as well as methodological issues that arise as the researcher/researched relationship is blurred. There is also recognition of the advantages of these relationships and community perspectives as seen in the call from leading scientific agencies to train more scientists from under-represented populations in order to increase diversity and culturally-relevant research.

This roundtable will focus on scholarship and research experiences relevant to the issue of social location and community-based research. Three projects will be described that involved researchers from university settings partnering with members of their own communities: a health promotion project with an American Indian tribe in Oklahoma; another exploring interpersonal violence with undocumented immigrants; and a project on healthy aging with tribal elders/leaders in remote communities in Alaska. Commonalities among the projects will be discussed, including the need for flexibility and reflexivity, and the importance of creating and maintaining relationships, and the need for investigational and analytical rigor. Additionally, issues particular to individual projects will be highlighted. These include ethical considerations about revealing sensitive information regarding undocumented status, analytical decisions to include one’s own data during the data analysis phase, and ensuring data presented are reflective of community members. Lessons learned and questions remaining from these projects will be used to explore social location in CBPR. Implications for research ethics, design, data collection, analysis, and special considerations regarding Human Subjects Review will be discussed.

We aim to facilitate a lively discussion with researchers wishing to work with their own community, and may have faced barriers or been discouraged from doing so, and others interested in creating meaningful CBPR relationships in communities other than their own. Our goal is to stimulate conversation that will explore ethical responsibility, validity, usefulness, positionality and reflexivity in order to critically examine the future role of CPBR in social work research. As funding agencies increasingly require that CBPR approaches are included in research proposals, this discussion is of particular relevance to social work research.

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