In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Community-Based Participatory Research

  • Introduction
  • Introductory Works
  • Reference Resources
  • Journals
  • Ethics
  • Teaching and Curricula

Social Work Community-Based Participatory Research
Sarah Gehlert, Sarah Kye-Price, Venera Bekteshi
  • LAST REVIEWED: 26 June 2012
  • LAST MODIFIED: 26 June 2012
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195389678-0157


This entry identifies resources relevant to social work’s use of community-based participatory research (CBPR) approaches in a variety of settings with a range of topics. CBPR is a process of inclusive participation in research in which academic researchers and community stakeholders work together to create a partnership that extends from the time before a research project begins to after its completion. CBPR represents a balance between research and invoking/realizing community power. This level of community participation distinguishes CBPR from other forms of community-based research. Rather than being a method or theory itself, CBPR is an orientation to research. It may be based on a variety of theories and entail qualitative, quantitative (including randomized clinical trials), or mixed methods. CBPR researchers focus their efforts not only on the substantive research area under investigation but also on the processes of partnership formation, open discussion of power and privilege, identification of common goals, collective action to design and implement research, and community improvement. The ecological nature of CBPR approaches fits well with social work’s multisystemic perspective on human behavior; likewise, CBPR’s emphasis on social justice and community-level change is a clear fit with the values and ethics of social work. The bibliography provided offers an overview of CBPR in areas of particular relevance to scholars and practitioners of social work.

Introductory Works

A few sources are useful for providing an overview of CBPR for social workers and other disciplinary and professional scholars. Minkler and Wallerstein 2008, an edited text now in its second edition, is probably the single-best source on the conceptual basis of CBPR, its application, and research methods. Israel, et al. 2005 takes a slightly different approach, weaving issues in implementing CBPR into applications. The authors address a variety of techniques such a focus groups and Photovoice, which may be useful for those with basic knowledge of CBPR. Stoecker 2005 focuses on community action and change in general, with less emphasis on health than the other sources. Stoecker’s model includes diagnosis, prescription, implementation, and evaluation of community problems. The recently updated Principles of Community Engagement, prepared under the auspices of the Community Engagement Key Function Committee of the National Institute of Health–funded Clinical Translational Science Award, is a broad-based resource for researchers in social work and clinical science who have some experience in CBPR. It focuses on why, when, and how to engage communities effectively. It is published online or in print form.

  • Clinical and Translational Science Awards Consortium, Community Engagement Key Function Committee Task Force on the Principles of Community Engagement. 2011. Principles of community engagement. 2d ed. NIH Publication 11-7782. Bethesda, MD: National Institutes of Health.

    Two major strengths of this text are its extensive bibliography on CBPR and its chapter on program evaluation. The latter addresses both research and process evaluation. This text was designed specifically for CTSAs and is useful for faculty, graduate students, and clinical science scholars integrating community engagement into their existing research agenda.

  • Israel, Barbara A., Eugenia Eng, Amy J. Schulz, and Edith A. Parker, eds. 2005. Methods in community-based participatory research for health. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

    This edited text weaves case studies with essential topics such as defining community, and with techniques such as observational tools. Sixteen appendices provide information and templates on policy reports, memoranda of understanding, partnership agreements, and so on. This text would be useful for graduate students and researchers who have already been introduced to CBPR.

  • Minkler, Meredith, and Nina Wallerstein, eds. 2008. Community-based participatory research for health: From process to outcomes. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

    With chapters by experts on CBPR, this text covers issues such as experimental design, power, and analysis, interspersed with case studies and a discussion of how to promote policy change. It is appropriate for graduate students and academic and community researchers and would serve as a good basic text on teaching CBPR to graduate students.

  • Stoecker, Randy. 2005. Research methods for community change: A project-based approach. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.

    Stoecker’s text focuses beyond health and follows a four-step model of diagnosis of community problems and prescribing, implementing, and evaluating interventions. It is aimed at research novices and would be useful in basic research courses or as a guide for investigators and practitioners engaging in community action.

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