• Scholarly report

Community-based participatory research A summary of the evidence

Community-based participatory research (CBPR), as an approach meant to enhance both research and community outcomes, has received increased attention as academic and public health communities struggle to address the persistent problems of disparities in the use of health care and in health outcomes for several populations, including those identified by diagnosis, socioeconomic status, lack of health insurance, and membership in various racial and ethnic groups. Few guidelines exist as to how CBPR proposals should be evaluated and what resources are required to promote successful efforts in such research. Even less is known about the degree to which a CBPR approach has been effective in sustaining long-term academic community partnerships and generating high-quality data to guide the research agenda. Experts are becoming impatient with the gap between knowledge produced through conventional research and translation of this research into interventions and policies to improve the health of various groups, including communities of color and other disadvantaged populations.

Done properly, CBPR benefits community participants, practitioners, and researchers alike. CBPR creates bridges between scientists and communities, allowing both groups to gain knowledge and experience. This collaboration assists in developing culturally appropriate measurement instruments, thus making projects more effective and efficient. Finally, CBPR establishes a level of trust that enhances both the quantity and the quality of data collected. The ultimate benefit is the prospect of examining a community’s unique circumstances to test and adapt best practices to its own needs.


Viswanathan, M., Ammerman, A., Eng, E., Gartlehner, G., Lohr, K., Griffith, D., ... Whitener, L. (2004). Community-based participatory research: A summary of the evidence. (Prepared for Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD). Research Triangle Park, NC: RTI International.