Is Community-based Participatory Research (CBPR) Useful? A Systematic Review on Papers in a Decade

Yahya Salimi, Khandan Shahandeh, Hossein Malekafzali, Nina Loori, Azita Kheiltash, Ensieh Jamshidi, Ameneh S. Frouzan, Reza Majdzadeh


Background: Community-based participatory research (CBPR) has been applied by health researchers and practitioners to address health disparities and community empowerment for health promotion. Despite the growing popularity of CBPR projects, there has been little effort to synthesize the literature to evaluate CBPR projects. The present review attempts to identify appropriate elements that may contribute to the successful or unsuccessful interventions.

Methods: A systematic review was undertaken using evidence identified through searching electronic databases, web sites, and reference list checks. Predefined inclusion and exclusion criteria were assessed by reviewers. Levels of evidence, accounting for methodologic quality, were assessed for 3 types of CBPR approaches, including interventional, observational, and qualitative research design as well as CBPR elements through separate abstraction forms. Each included study was appraised with 2 quality grades, one for the elements of CBPR and one for research design.

Results: Of 14,222 identified articles, 403 included in the abstract review. Of these, 70 CBPR studies, that 56 intervention studies had different designs, and finally 8 studies met the inclusion criteria. The findings show that collaboration among community partners, researchers, and organizations led to community-level action to improve the health and wellbeing and to minimize health disparities. It enhanced the capacity of the community in terms of research and leadership skills. The result provided examples of effective CBPR that took place in a variety of communities. However, little has been written about the organizational capacities required to make these efforts successful.

Conclusion: Some evidences were found for potentially effective strategies to increase the participant’s levels of CBPR activities. Interventions that included community involvement have the potential to make important differences to levels of activities and should be promoted.

Key words: Community-based participatory research, effectiveness, researches, systematic review

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