Teaching Community-Based Participatory Research Principles to Physicians Enrolled in a Health Services Research Fellowship

Published In: Academic Medicine, v. 84, no. 4, Apr. 2009, p. 478-484

Posted on RAND.org on January 01, 2009

by Marjorie S Rosenthal, Georgina I Lucas, Barbara Tinney, Carol Mangione, Mark A. Schuster, Kenneth B. Wells, Marleen Wong, Donald Schwarz, Lucy W Tuton, Joel D Howell, Michelle Heisler

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To improve health and reduce inequities through health services research, investigators are increasingly actively involving individuals and institutions who would be affected by the research. In one such approach, community-based participatory research (CBPR), community members participate in every aspect of designing and implementing research with the expectation that this process will enhance the translation of research into practice in communities. Because few physician researchers have expertise in such community-based approaches to research, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation leadership expanded the mission of the Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholars Program (RWJCSP), which historically focused on health services and clinical research, to include training and mentored experiences in CBPR. The authors discuss the three years of experience (2005-2008) implementing the new community research curricula at the four RWJCSP sites: University of California, Los Angeles; University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia; University of Michigan in Ann Arbor; and Yale University in New Haven. Three common goals and objectives are identified across sites: teaching the principles of CBPR, providing opportunities for conducting CBPR, and making an impact on the health of the communities served. Each site's different approaches to teaching CBPR based on the nature of the existing community and academic environments are described. The authors use illustrative quotes to exemplify three key challenges that training programs face when integrating community-partnered approaches into traditional research training: relationship building, balancing goals of education/scholarship/relationships/product, and sustainability. Finally, the authors offer insights and implications for those who may wish to integrate CBPR training into their research training curricula.

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