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Prev Med Rep. 2017 Jun 21;7:180-186. doi: 10.1016/j.pmedr.2017.06.007. eCollection 2017 Sep.

Using community-based participatory research and organizational diagnosis to characterize relationships between community leaders and academic researchers.

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Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Clinical Scholars Program, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT, United States.
Department of Medicine, Equity Research and Innovation Center, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT, United States.
New Haven Healthy Start, The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven, New Haven, CT, United States.
Department of Psychiatry, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT, United States.
West River Neighborhood Services Corporation, New Haven, CT, United States.
Community Alliance for Research Engagement, Yale University School of Public Health, New Haven, CT, United States.
Drexel School of Public Health, Department of Community Health and Prevention, United States.
New Haven Family Alliance, New Haven, CT, United States.
Department of Pediatrics, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT, United States.


Sustaining collaborations between community-based organization leaders and academic researchers in community-engaged research (CEnR) in the service of decreasing health inequities necessitates understanding the collaborations from an inter-organizational perspective. We assessed the perspectives of community leaders and university-based researchers conducting community-engaged research in a medium-sized city with a history of community-university tension. Our research team, included experts in CEnR and organizational theory, used qualitative methods and purposeful, snowball sampling to recruit local participants and performed key informant interviews from July 2011-May 2012. A community-based researcher interviewed 11 community leaders, a university-based researcher interviewed 12 university-based researchers. We interviewed participants until we reached thematic saturation and performed analyses using the constant comparative method. Unifying themes characterizing community leaders and university-based researchers' relationships on the inter-organizational level include: 1) Both groups described that community-engaged university-based researchers are exceptions to typical university culture; 2) Both groups described that the interpersonal skills university-based researchers need for CEnR require a change in organizational culture and training; 3) Both groups described skepticism about the sustainability of a meaningful institutional commitment to community-engaged research 4) Both groups described the historical impact on research relationships of race, power, and privilege, but only community leaders described its persistent role and relevance in research relationships. Challenges to community-academic research partnerships include researcher interpersonal skills and different perceptions of the importance of organizational history. Solutions to improve research partnerships may include transforming university culture and community-university discussions on race, power, and privilege.


CBPR, community-based participatory research; CEnR, community-engaged research; Community-academic partnerships; Community-based participatory research; Community-engaged research; Inter-group relationships; Qualitative study

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