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Health Educ Res. 2013 Oct;28(5):748-59. doi: 10.1093/her/cyt082. Epub 2013 Sep 2.

Critical incident technique: an innovative participatory approach to examine and document racial disparities in breast cancer healthcare services.

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University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA 15261, USA, Greensboro Health Disparities Collaborative, Partnership Project, Greensboro, NC, USA, University of North Carolina, Greensboro, NC, USA and University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC, USA.


Disproportionate and persistent inequities in quality of healthcare have been observed among persons of color in the United States. To understand and ultimately eliminate such inequities, several public health institutions have issued calls for innovative methods and approaches that examine determinants from the social, organizational and public policy contexts to inform the design of systems change interventions. The authors, including academic and community research partners in a community-based participatory research (CBPR) study, reflected together on the use and value of the critical incident technique (CIT) for exploring racial disparities in healthcare for women with breast cancer. Academic and community partners used initial large group discussion involving a large partnership of 35 academic and community researchers guided by principles of CBPR, followed by the efforts of a smaller interdisciplinary manuscript team of academic and community researchers to reflect, document summarize and translate this participatory research process, lessons learned and value added from using the CIT with principles of CBPR and Undoing Racism. The finding of this article is a discussion of the process, strengths and challenges of utilizing CIT with CBPR. The participation of community members at all levels of the research process including development, collection of the data and analysis of the data was enhanced by the CIT process. As the field of CBPR continues to mature, innovative processes which combine the expertise of community and academic partners can enhance the success of such partnerships. This report contributes to existing literature by illustrating a unique and participatory research application of CIT with principles of CBPR and Undoing Racism. Findings highlight the collaborative process used to identify and implement this novel method and the adaptability of this technique in the interdisciplinary exploration of system-level changes to understand and address disparities in breast cancer and cancer care.

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