574. IRB Review of Community Based Participatory Research

Updated Oct. 4, 2019

Community-Based Participatory Research

Community-based participatory research is a collaborative approach to research that equitably involves all partners in the research process and recognizes the unique strengths that each may bring. The process typically (but not always) starts with a topic of importance to the community and has the aim of combining knowledge with action with the intention of instituting change to improve community well-being. The community residents participate in the full spectrum of research from concept, design, conduct, data analysis, interpretation, conclusions, and communication of results. Academic/research and community partners join to develop models and approaches to building communication, trust and capacity, with the final goal of increasing community participation in the research process. Community-based participatory research has emerged as an alternative research model which integrates education and social action to improve communities and enhance the scientific base of knowledge. It is most often associated with improving community health outcomes through transfer of evidence-based research from clinical settings to communities that can most benefit.

Community-based participatory research requires that the researcher follow the best practices for respectful and productive relationships. The following principles are in addition to those required for all human subject research:

  1. Be certain that the research topic addresses a community-defined need, question or problem.
  2. Recognize research as a partnership (i.e. engagement of research projects is to be led by a team of academic and community Co-Investigators as partners).
  3. Respect the community partner’s interest in the research.
  4. Be open to the guidance of community insights and experiences.
  5. Maintain a balance in decision making between the researchers and community participants.
  6. Provide continuous feedback to enhance the partnership and its outcomes.
  7. Disseminate research findings to community stakeholders and participants.
  8. Recognize partnerships can dissolve and a plan for closure should be developed.

Institutional Review Board Considerations

Reviewers should ensure that principal investigators have submitted enough information to assess

whether the study adequately meets the criteria for approval, including:

  1. Evidence of an equitable partnership between the investigator and the community partner.
  2. The Investigators have defined the relevant community or communities.
  3. The investigators have identified the appropriate community or communities for the project.
  4. The community Co-Investigator has identified the appropriate research partner for the project.
  5. Community engagement is an integral part of the research.
  6. Letters of support (from the community) are clear and well-defined.
  7. There is an appropriate division of funding (if applicable).
  8. There are adequate training opportunities for investigators and community members.
  9. The research environment is adequate.
    1. The community benefits from the presence and implementation of the research.
    2. The research is conducted in an environment that enhances the likelihood of success.
  10. The research strives for positive change in the community’s outcomes.
  11. The research fosters long-term relationships between the University and the community for the benefit of both.