Comparing CBPR with Health Planning

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Community-Based Participatory Research is often used as part of a particular form of health research called Community Health Assessment (CHA). CHA is research into the health-related conditions of a “community.” The community may be a neighborhood or city, or even a state or country, but it may also be a community of health workers in a hospital or a community of students in a school. The term community is very flexible! A CHA may be undertaken by a health department or a hospital to fulfill a legislative mandate, by a university or funding agency to understand a selected issue better, or by the community itself in response to an emerging health-related problem.

There are basically two different approaches to community health assessment: the “health planning approach” and the “community development approach.” These two approaches differ in who takes the lead when making decisions. The traditional health planning approach is considered more “top down,” in that professional experts make the key decisions. The community-development approach—of which CBPR is one—takes a more “bottom up” approach, in which community stakeholders make the key decisions regarding the research and development of health programs that will affect them directly.

For this week’s Assignment, you will start thinking about your Final Project—the design of a Community Health Assessment using CBPR. For this preparatory step towards your Final Project, you will read a classic comparison by Bracht (1999) on how CBPR is a bottom-up “community organizing” approach to community health research, in contrast to the traditional top-down “health planning” form of health research, which is still common today

To prepare:

  • Review Bracht (1999), “Assessing Community Needs, Resources, and Readiness.”
  • Review Wallerstein (2018), “Critical Issues in Developing and Following CBPR Principles.”

By Day 7

Submit a 3- to 4-page account of how CBPR differs from traditional forms of community health research. Include:

  • Five elements of CBPR that differ from traditional approaches to health research in communities and an explanation of how they differ.
  • At least one example of how these five elements of CBPR can be applied.
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