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Am J Community Psychol. 2014 Sep;54(1-2):83-90. doi: 10.1007/s10464-014-9644-4.

Introduction to ecological description of a community intervention: building prevention through collaborative field based research.

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Department of Biobehavioral Health and Population Sciences, University of Minnesota Medical School, Duluth Campus, 231 SMed, 1035 University Drive, Duluth, MN, 55812-3031, USA,


This special issue of the American Journal of Community Psychology is the result of a 18-year partnership with Alaska Native communities using collaborative field based research methods. Its goal is to provide a case study fulfilling the spirit of ecological inquiry, offering a detailed and nuanced description of a community intervention. The articles describe the nature of our work, including some of our successes, as well as challenges, dilemmas, and even disappointments we experienced along the way. Our primary aim was to develop and assess the feasibility of a complex, multi-level intervention to increase protective factors hypothesized to reduce suicide and alcohol abuse among rural Yup'ik Alaska Native youth ages 12-18. The articles that follow include descriptions of the cultural context, relevant literature and project history, our methods of community engagement in measurement development strategies, an empirical test of the prevention model that guided the intervention, the development and implementation of the intervention, a feasibility and impact assessment, and an evaluation of community engagement. A final article summarizes what is generalizable from the work in field based intervention research with rural and culturally distinct populations, and future prospects for decolonizing community intervention research methods. These papers raise important issues, including (1) need for deep, contextual ecological descriptions, (2) reconceptualization of time in the research relationship, (3) distinctions between populations and communities, and (4) the conflict between values of communities and intervention science.

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