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Public Health. 2005 Sep;119(9):758-70.

Collaborative research partnerships with disadvantaged communities: challenges and potential solutions.

Author information

  • Postgraduate Programme in Public Health, School of Health and Social Care, Oxford Brookes University, Jack Straws Lane, Martson Road, Oxford OX3 0FL, UK. walid.ansari@brookes.ac.uk


Community/campus research collaborations face multiple challenges. An understanding of the community's background, history, habits and traditions, values and mode of operations is required. This article narrates a 3-year experience of undertaking collaborative public health research with five disadvantaged communities in various provinces of South Africa. Based on the experience, five main challenges exist: the value systems of those collaborating in the research; the stakeholders' costs and benefits of being involved; issues of empowerment and capacity transfer; the need for multidisciplinary research approaches; and the prerequisite of the clarity of relationships and roles between researcher and community. Categorized under the five main challenges are examples of 19 interlacing 'concepts' that detailed the South African research partnership from the perspective of the processes, dealings and daily difficulties. Examples of the challenges and concepts are highlighted from the author's research experiences with disadvantaged communities. These challenges increase exponentially with the inclusion of more research sites, more stakeholders or when undertaking cluster research. Possible preventative measures or solutions to the problems are suggested. Both the 'town' and 'gown' partners are required to attend to a multitude of factors when embarking on collaborative community-based research.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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