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Ethn Dis. 2010 Winter;20(1 Suppl 2):S2-1-8.

The Healthy African American Families (HAAF) project: from community-based participatory research to community-partnered participatory research.

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Maternal and Infant Health Branch, Division of Reproductive Health, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia 30341, USA.


During the past two decades, there has been an increased use of community-based participatory research in public health activities, especially as part of efforts to understand health disparities affecting communities of color. This article describes the history and lessons learned of a long-standing community participatory project, Healthy African American Families (HAAF), in Los Angeles, California. HAAF evolved from a partnership formed by a community advisory board, university, and federal health agency to an independent, incorporated community organization that facilitates and brokers research and health promotion activities within its community. HAAF created mechanisms for community education and networks of community relationships and reciprocity through which mutual support, research, and interventions are integrated. These sustained, institutionalized relationships unite resources and both community and scientific expertise in a community-partnered participatory research model to address multiple health problems in the community, including preterm birth, HIV, asthma, depression, and diabetes. The HAAF participatory process builds on existing community resiliency and resources and on centuries of self-help, problem-solving, cooperative action, and community activism within the African American community. HAAF demonstrates how community-partnered participatory research can be a mechanism for directing power, collective action, system change, and social justice in the process of addressing health disparities at the community level.

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