Policy Factsheet

Community-based Participatory Research

Reasons for Policy

  • Researchers and practitioners have called for greater community involvement and control through partnerships among academic, health practice and community organizations.1

  • Community–based participatory research (CBPR) enhances the relevance, usefulness, and use of research data by all partners involved.<sup>1</sup>

  • Knowledge gained through research should be used by all partners involved to direct resources and influence policies that will benefit the community.1

  • CBPR is an approach to health and environmental research meant to increase the value of studies that address the problems of health care disparities in a variety of populations.2

Community Groups

  • Community-based Organizations
  • Community Colleges
  • Government Agencies
  • Public University
  • Universities

Policy Components

  • Active involvement of community members, organizational representatives, and researchers in all aspects of the research process.

  • Emphasis on the participation and influence of nonacademic researchers in the process of creating knowledge.

  • Partnerships among representatives from health and human service organizations, academia, community-based organizations, and the community-at-large.

Desired Outcomes

  • Improved research quality outcomes
  • Improved behavioral and physiological health outcomes
  • Improved community capacity for development
  • Better informed and more effective practice

Level of Evidence Available to Evaluate Effectiveness of Policy

For all policies we describe on this website, we have applied the Standards of Evidence as defined by Flay et al. (2005) in the Standards of Evidence document published by Prevention Science.

The effectiveness level of this policy is 1: Evidence-Based Policies Meeting Criteria for Effectiveness.

The levels of effectiveness as noted are:

  1. meets criteria for policy effectiveness (consistent, positive outcomes from at least two high-quality experimental or quasi-experimental trials using a comparison group or interrupted time series design);
  2. consistent evidence available linking policy with positive outcomes from high-quality observational studies only;
  3. insufficient evidence available for policy or policy components.

Achievable Results

On average, community-based participatory research can achieve:

  • Improved community capacity, including additional grant funding obtained by the community and job creation due to the collaboration.2

  • Enhanced intervention quality related to community development.2

Note: There is insufficient evidence regarding CBPR’s effect on health outcomes. Further research is needed to assess the impact of CBPR on health outcomes.2

Community Examples

Atlanta, Georgia, Morehouse School of Medicine, Prevention Research Center engages in interdisciplinary applied prevention research in collaboration with community partners, government agencies and universities.

Trenton, New Jersey, Isles, Inc. a non-profit community development organization, has adopted a community based approach to conducting research.

Seattle, Washington, University of Washington, School of Public Health conducts community based research.

Links to Policy Examples

Morehouse School of Medicine, Prevention Research Center, Bylaws.

Isles, Inc., Isles Research Principles

University of Washington, School of Public Health Community-Based Research Principles

Be sure to check with your state, county, and municipal governments regarding potential existing laws that may impede any new policy development.


1 Israel, BA, Schulz, AJ, Parker, EA, Becker, AB (1998). Review of Community-Based Research: Assessing Partnership Approaches to Improve Public Health. Annual Review of Public Health, 19, 173-202.

2 Viswanathan, M, et al. (2004). Community-based Participatory Research: Assessing the Evidence. Evidence Report/Technology Assessment No. 99. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, AHRQ Publication 04-E022-2.

3 Flay, BR, Biglan, A, Boruch, RF, Ganzalez Castro, F, Gottfredson, D, Kellam, S, Moscicki, EK, Schinke, S, Valentine, JC, & Ji, P (2005). Standards of evidence: Criteria for efficacy, effectiveness and dissemination. Prevention Science, 6(3), 151-175.