Community-Based Participatory Research

Community-based participatory research (CBPR) is a method that involves collaboration between government authorities, experts, and local citizens in order to solve complex issues that they are facing.

Problems and Purpose

Community-based participatory research (CBPR) is a "collaborative approach to research that equitably involves all partners in the research process and recognizes the unique strengths that each brings. CBPR begins with a research topic of importance to the community, has the aim of combining knowledge with action and achieving social change to improve health outcomes and eliminate health disparities."[1]

CBPR typically unites three parties: Government agencies, trained scientists, and citizens from the community in an effort to solve a given problem. Typically, members of the three parties meet to draw up an open and inclusive research plan that involves the whole community through questionnaires, open public meetings, or other methods. These methods are employed when a given political problem that affects the community is complex and requires a high level of expertise.

Origins and Development

The historical roots of CBPR generally trace back to the development of participatory action research by Kurt Lewin and Orlando Fals Borda, and the popular education movement in Latin America associated with Paulo Freire.

In CBPR projects, the community participates fully in all aspects of the research process. CBPR projects start with the community. Community is often self-defined, but general categories of community include geographic community, community of individuals with a common problem or issue, or a community of individuals with a common interest or goal. CBPR encourages collaboration of “formally trained research” partners from any area of expertise, provided that the researcher provides expertise that is seen as useful to the investigation by the community, and is fully committed to a partnership of equals and to producing outcomes usable to the community.

Equitable partnerships require sharing power, resources, credit, results, and knowledge, as well as a reciprocal appreciation of each partner's knowledge and skills at each stage of the project, including problem definition/issue selection, research design, conducting research, interpreting the results, and determining how the results should be used for action. CBPR differs from traditional research in many ways. One of the principal ways in which it is different is that instead of creating knowledge for the advancement of a field or for knowledge's sake, CBPR is an iterative process, incorporating research, reflection, and action in a cyclical process.

Participant Recruitment and Selection

How it Works: Process, Interaction, and Decision-Making

Influence, Outcomes, and Effects

Analysis and Lessons Learned

See Also

Participatory Research on the Decommissioning of South African Social Services 



[1] BA, Schulz AJ, Parker E, Becker AB in "Review of Community-Based Research: Assessing Partnership Approaches to Improve Public Health", Ann. Rev. Public Health. 1998. 19:173-202.

[2] Wallerstein, N. and B. Duran (2003). The Conceptual, Historical and Practical Roots of Community Based Participatory Research and Related Participatory Traditions.

External Links 

Community-Based Participatory Research: A Strategy for Building Healthy Communities and Promoting Health through Policy Change  

Community-Based Participatory Research for Health: From Process to Outcomes 

Using Community-Based Participatory Research to Address Health Disparities 

Community‐Based Participatory Research: Assessing the Evidence: Summary