CBPR Glossary

Below is a list of terms that are often used in the context of community-based participatory research and are defined based on CBPR principles. 

Community Assessment  This is a phase of research that includes identifying strengths, resources, needs and problems that are of concern to the community.  There are numerous techniques and methods for assessing community assets and resources including windshield tours, photovoice, surveys, in-depth interviews, health indicators data, and facilitated group discussions among partners. Community assessments provide data and insights regarding health concerns that will inform the next phase in developing the CBPR partnership: which is identifying and prioritizing health issues, that the partnership will focus on.

It is particularly important for outside researchers to get to know the community as much as possible in the earliest stages, as much of this discussion among partners forms the basis for future working relationships. One method of conducting such a community assessment particularly suited to CBPR is action-oriented community diagnosis, or AOCD, a process by which public health professionals engage communities in assessing their own strengths and problems with the purpose of building capacity to take action for bringing about change. (Eng et al., 2005)

Community-Based Participatory Research (CBPR) A partnership approach to research that:

  • Equitably involves community members, organizational representatives, and academic researchers in all aspects of the research process.
  • Enables all partners to contribute expertise with shared responsibility and ownership.
  • Enhances understanding of a given phenomenon.
  • Integrates knowledge gained with action.

Israel, Schulz, Parker, and Becker, 1998

Collaborative Research  Involves equitably all community and academic partners in all aspects of the research process, recognizes the unique strengths that each brings, and promotes co-learning and capacity building of all partners; begins with a research topic of importance to the community; combines knowledge with programs and policies to improve health and well-being and reduce health inequities; and benefits community and academic partners through: 

  • Improved understanding of the communities involved,
  • Enhanced relevance and use of the research,
  • Enhanced quality and validity of data, and
  • Improved lives of the people involved. 

Data Collection This is the means of gathering information for a research study. Although there are many different methods of data collection, there are a set of roles for partner engagement in data collection that are similar across most methods. Each partnership will need to determine how partners will be engaged and to what extent during each step in the data collection process. 

In the context of a CBPR study, all partners are engaged in designing the study and selecting methods of data collection. Other roles include developing measures and measurement instruments; tailoring language and data collection procedures to the local culture and community context; recruiting participants; providing a community site for data collection; and developing informed consent forms and procedures; and training and involving community members as data collectors. 

Data Analysis and Interpretation This is the process of analyzing data collected as part of a study, highlighting useful information, interpreting the results, and suggesting conclusions.  There are multiple ways for involving CBPR partners in analyzing andinterpreting both quantitative and qualitative results, depending on, for example, the research purpose, the amount of data collected, issues of confidentiality, skills and interests of the partners involved, and the number and extent of analyses. It also depends on the partnership itself. More established partnerships may have developed the skills to do more in-depth analysis, or the trust to rely on working groups, such as writing teams, to do substantial analysis and interpretation before bringing the results to the full partnership for discussion and decision making. What is critical in all CBPR partnerships is the collective involvement in the interpretation of findings.

Again, what distinguishes CBPR is an explicit commitment to ensuring that the community owns and interprets the meaning and implications of data about their community and their experience, so that the knowledge gained can be applied to benefit the community.  

Dissemination Distribution of the key research findings to multiple audiences. In this phase of the process, CBPR partners share the knowledge gained and use the information generated to inform action with the community involved. In order for knowledge transfer to occur, CBPR efforts must include developing and implementing guidelines for how all partners will participate in disseminating research findings.

Dissemination Guidelines Address what results are disseminated, where the information is shared, by whom and how to handle requests for access to the data.

Health Equity The absence of systematic disparities in health abd uts determinants between groups with different social advantage/disadvantage (e.g. wealth, power, prestige). 

For example, low-income persons and racial/ethnic minorities generally have poor
health relative to people who have more economic resources or who are members of more powerful and privileged racial groups. Closing gaps in education, employment opportunities, and income between those groups is a means to attain
health equity. 

Health Inequities Health differences that result from systematic, avoidable and unjust social and economic policies (i.e. inequalities) and practices that create barriers to opportunities. Health inequities can result from differences in social or physical environments, access to or use of health care, or differences in access to otherresources that are necessary for health.
ystematic disparities in health (or the major social determinants of health) between groups with different social advantage/disadvantage (e.g. wealth, power, prestige). 

Health Disparities Population-specific differences in the presence of disease, health outcomes, death or length of life, or access to health care. Often used to refer to differences between racial or ethnic groups, they can also refer to differences by socioeconomic status,
gender, sexual orientation, age, education or income, disability, or living in various geographic localities. Health disparities generally refer to measured health differences between two populations, regardless of the underlying reasons for the differences.

Partnership Evaluation The partnership process is not only the means for accomplishing the research, but is also the subject of inquiry about the strengths and challenges of using a CBPR approach. Such an evaluation enables a partnership to better understand what contributes to a more effective partnership and how to strengthen the functioning of the particular partnership, as needed. 

Thus, in addition to evaluating a specific intervention that is part of a CBPR study, partnerships need to evaluate whether the partnership is being carried out in accordance with its CBPR principles and operating norms. For example, it is important to determine how effectively a partnership is collaborative and participatory. It is not enough to adopt a set of CBPR principles and say that they guide the work of a CBPR partnership; partnerships also need to assess the extent to which this actually occurs.

Conducting an evaluation of a CBPR partnership is also necessary in order to determine how effectively the partnership achieves its intermediate objectives and long-term outcomes. Information obtained through such an evaluation can be used by partnerships to improve how members work together. There are a number of different research designs and data collection methods that can be used to evaluate a CBPR partnership process, and each partnership must decide which are appropriate. (Israel et al., 2005)

Research Methods These are the procedures used to collect data in a research study. There are numerous qualitative and quantitative data collection methods, most of which can be used in the context of CBPR. CBPR studies can involve quantitative data (for example surveys, direct health assessments, census and administrative data) and qualitative data (such as focus groups, in-depth interviews, photovoice, and social mapping). In addition, CBPR studies have increasingly used other measures to assess the physical environment, such as environmental audits, GIS mapping, and exposure assessment.

As with any research, which methods to use depend on the type of research being conducted and the research questions and priorities. Additional considerations in CBPR are the local context and culture, and the extent to which designing and conducting the methods can contribute to the longer term goals of the partnership and advance its CBPR principles. All partners play important roles in determining which methods to use and how they should be developed by the partnership using a participatory process. This may require a process by which partners educate each other about the advantages and disadvantages of varying methods, bringing in both academic and community perspectives.

Social Determinants of Health Social, economic, and environmental factors that influence the overall health of individuals and communities. Social factors include racial and ethnic discrimination; political influence; and social networks or support. Economic factors include income, education, employment, and wealth. Environmental factors include living and working conditions, transportation, and air and water quality. A focus on health equity emphasizes efforts to address these and other social determinants of health in order to optimize health promotion and disease prevention efforts. 

Social Justice The equitable allocation of resources in society. Attaining health equity is related to social justice, because health inequities reflect the unequal distribution of the resources that are necessary to maintain health. In other words, a health disparity is increasingly used to refer to a difference in health status among distinct segments of the population, while a health inequality increasingly is used to refer to differences in health that are not only unnecessary and avoidable but are also considered unfair and unjust. Eliminating health disparities and health inequities is an important goalof public health.

Steering Committee Within the context of a CBPR partnership, Steering Committees develop proposals for new CBPR projects and oversee projects after funding has been obtained. Members of Steering Committees are involved as appropriate in all major phases of the research process, e.g., defining the problem, developing the data collection plan, collecting data, interpreting, sharing, and disseminating the results and developing, implementing and evaluating plans of action to address the issues identified by the research. Steering Committees jointly decide how partners will work together and adopt operating norms and CBPR principles, as appropriate.

Translation taking the key findings from a study and applying them to develop future research studies and to develop interventions and policies to improve health and quality of life. In this phase of the process, CBPR partners share the knowledge gained and use the information generated to inform action with the community involved.