Session: Managing the Challenges of Community-Based Participatory Research: Lessons Learned from Three Projects (Society for Social Work and Research 23rd Annual Conference - Ending Gender Based, Family and Community Violence)

14 Managing the Challenges of Community-Based Participatory Research: Lessons Learned from Three Projects

Thursday, January 17, 2019: 1:30 PM-3:00 PM
Union Square 25 Tower 3, 4th Floor (Hilton San Francisco)
Cluster: Research Design and Measurement (RD&M)
Jennifer Willett, PhD, University of Nevada, Reno, Karen D'Angelo, PhD, University of Illinois at Chicago and Jack Lu, PhD, University of Illinois at Chicago
Community-Based Participatory Research (CBPR), a specific type of Participatory Action Research, is based on a co-negotiated, interdependent partnership between academic researchers, community-based researchers, and community members (Kemmis & McTaggart, 2005). CBPR promotes shared learning and capacity building among all partners (Israel et al., 2003). Capitalizing on this collaborative relationship and the ability to be creative through an iterative process, its goal is to develop innovative, practical, and effective solutions to social problems (Olschansky, 2012). The solutions that evolve out of CBPR stem not only from the knowledge generated as research outcomes, but also through the empowerment process of participants, who typically experience marginalization and oppression (Israel et al., 2003). CBPR is especially salient with social work's values, particularly our allegiance to social justice, self-determination, and commitment to vulnerable populations (National Association of Social Workers, 2017).

CBPR is not without challenges (Hotze, 2011). Due to the interdependent partnership ideal, research may stall due to differing levels of commitment across the partners, other deadlines that divert attention away from the longitudinal project, and changes within staffing. Academic standards involving IRB approval, rigorous study designs, and confidentiality can lead to confusion and frustration for community partners. CBPR relationships take time to build, which is challenging for academic researchers with tenure pressures, PhD students that must meet dissertation deadlines, and community-based researchers that must constantly secure funding. Thinking through these potential challenges before a project begins is critical to success (Hotze, 2011).

This roundtable session will explore lessons learned from three participatory research projects in their unique contexts. 1) Facilitated by an assistant professor in partnership with a local advocacy organization, the first CBPR study documented environmental injustices in Nevada. Students and community members served as community research assistants who engaged in outreach and collected data. 2) The second project was a multi-phase, photovoice, dissertation in one northeastern city which struggles with concentrated poverty and pervasive racial segregation. This study aimed to understand residents' perceptions of how the place in which they live impact their health, and identify suggestions for improving the well-being of residents. 3) Initiated by a PhD student in partnership with a community-based organization, the third CBPR study qualitatively explored Cambodian American experience of health access through a lens of a national sample of community health workers. Challenges that arose in the three studies involved the following: Justifying the validity of CBPR to academic gatekeepers; navigating strict IRB procedures at all stages of the research process; protecting research from structural challenges affecting community-based partners; grappling with pervasive resource gaps involving time and staffing; building critical consciousness among community stakeholders with long histories of mistrust and isolation; promoting trust between community partners and universities via shared resources and decision making; and identifying meaningful but realistic action plans that evolve out of CBPR. We will explore processes that assisted in successful negotiation of these challenges, and the completions of the three projects. Our goal is to stimulate conversations about realistic CBPR expectations, as well as assist in problem-solving for attendees. ->

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