CBPR – What is it?

Community-based participatory research (CBPR) is a partnership approach to research that equitably involves community members, organization representatives, and academic researchers in all aspects of the research process.  CBPR aims to increase knowledge and understanding of what is being studied and to integrate the knowledge gained with interventions and policy changes to enhance the health and quality of life of community members.


Community-based participatory research (CBPR) is an applied collaborative approach that enables community residents to more actively participate in the full spectrum of research (from conception – design – conduct – analysis – interpretation – conclusions – communication of results) with a goal of influencing change in community health, systems, programs or policies. Community members and researchers partner to combine knowledge and action for social change to improve community health and often reduce health disparities. 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. It is an orientation to research which equitably involves all partners in the research process and recognizes the unique strengths that each brings.

Improving public health often entails moving beyond the conventional health care system to include integrated and innovative approaches. CBPR has emerged as an alternative research paradigm which integrates education and social action to improve health and deepen our scientific base of knowledge in the areas of health promotion, disease prevention, and health disparities. It is regarded as an effective method for transferring evidence-based research from clinical settings to communities that can most benefit thereby improving health. CBPR’s community-partnered research processes offer the potential to generate better-informed hypotheses, develop more effective interventions, and enhance the translation of the research results into practice. Thus, CBPR is an essential tool for action-oriented and community-driven public health research.

Advantages of community-based participatory research include:

  • Joining partners with diverse expertise to address complex public health problems
  • Improving intervention design and implementation by facilitating participant recruitment and retention
  • Increasing the quality and validity of research
  • Enhancing the relevance and use of data
  • Increasing trust and bridging cultural gaps between partners
  • Providing resources for the communities involved
  • Benefiting the community and researchers alike through the knowledge gained and actions taken
  • The potential to translate research findings to guide the development of further interventions and policy change