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Am J Community Psychol. 2013 Jun;51(3-4):480-91. doi: 10.1007/s10464-012-9565-z.

Adapting to context in community-based participatory research: "participatory starting points" in a Chinese immigrant worker community.

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  • 1Labor Occupational Health Program, School of Public Health, University of California, 2223 Fulton St, 4th Floor, Berkeley, CA 94720, USA. cychang@berkeley.edu


Community-based participatory research (CBPR) is increasingly being used to better understand and improve the health of diverse communities. A key strength of this research orientation is its adaptability to community contexts and characteristics. To date, however, few studies explicitly discuss adaptations made to CBPR principles and processes in response to community context and partners' needs. Using data from our CBPR study, the San Francisco Chinatown Restaurant Worker Health and Safety Project, and drawing from literature on immigrant political incorporation, we examine the links between the contexts of the Chinese immigrant worker community, adaptations made by our collaborative, and study outcomes. In particular, we explore the concepts of contexts of reception and participatory starting points, which may be especially relevant for partnerships with immigrant communities whose members have historically had lower rates of civic and political participation in the US. We discuss contextual findings such as worker partner accounts of language barriers, economic and social marginalization, and civic skills and participation, as well as subsequent adaptations made by the partnership. We also describe the relative effectiveness of these adaptations in yielding equitable participation and building partners' capacity. We conclude by sharing lessons learned and their implications for CBPR and partnerships with immigrant communities more broadly.

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