What is CBPR?

Community-Based Participatory Research

Community-Based Participatory Research (CBPR), sometimes called community-engaged research or community-partnered research, is an alternative to “traditional” scientific research. Traditionally, research is led solely by academics. CBPR involves community partners with equal decision-making power, mutual ownership of the research processes and products, and a focus on solving community problems and improving practice.

Traditional Research vs. CBPR

(Table adapted from Horowitz, et al. 2009)

Traditional ResearchCommunity-Based Participatory Research
Usually Led ByOutside expertCommunity & Academic Partner
PurposeDevelop new knowledgeSolve community problems, improve practice
Types of Data GatheredQuantitative and/or qualitativeQuantitative and/or qualitative
Purpose of Gathering and Analyzing DataGain better understanding of something, develop or test hypothesisExplore practical issue, guide action planning, evaluate results
Standard for quality researchPeer review methods and resultsThe research results in desired change
Primary audienceOther researchers, the profession, government or private agenciesMembers of the community
Common ProductsAcademic Journals, PresentationsCommunity Research Briefs, Community Forums, Community action plans

CBPR in real life

Watch this 3 minute video from the University of California San Francisco on what CBPR looks like in action.

Key Principles of CBPR

A collaborative approach to research that equitably involves all partners in the research process and recognizes the unique strengths that each brings. CBPR begins with a research topic of importance to the community and has the aim of combining knowledge with action and achieving social change…

CBPR as defined by the WK Kellogg Foundation-funded Community Health Scholars Program

Recognize community as a unit of identity

Build on community strengths and resources

Facilitate equitable partnership in all phases of research

Power-sharing attends to social inequalities

Co-learning and capacity-building among all partners

Balance knowledge generation (research) with intervention (action)

Focus on local relevance with ecological perspectives


Involve all partners in the interpretation and dissemination of findings

Commit to a long-term process for sustainable benefit to the community

REACH is shown as an acronym for Research and Equity in Academic-Community Partnerships for Health