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Community-Based Participatory Research

Addressing complex health and social problems has prompted new research approaches that are action-oriented and community-based.  Community-based participatory research (CBPR) is a collaborative approach to research that purposefully partners researchers and community members/stakeholders in order to draw on the unique strengths that each brings.  CBPR begins with a research topic of importance to the community with the aim of combining knowledge and action for social change to improve community health and eliminate health disparities. 

The Research Division held division-wide educational sessions on what CBPR is and central questions and tensions that arise when engaging in CBPR.  Two prominent CBPR researchers, Drs. Ann Macaulay and Paul Nutting, have visited the Division to provide insights from their experiences and input into the Division’s efforts to engage in CBPR.  And the Research Division has met with multiple community members from the New Brunswick area to hear multiple perspectives on healthcare needs in the community, what is already being addressed, and how the Research Division could partner with community members/organizations.

From this exchange of ideas, several research projects in the Research Division using CBPR approaches are underway.  We are studying, through qualitative interviews, patterns of primary care usage among patients going to the Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital emergency department.  Building on this, we are also exploring geographic patterns in emergency department utilization using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) software.  Other research projects are engaging primary care practices in underserved communities.  These efforts are funded by the Health Resources and Services Administration Title VII grant entitled “Academic Administrative Units in Primary Care.”