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CBPR: Enhancing Capacity to Use Innovative Methodologies

December 2014 - June 2020

The need for the use of innovative methodologies in the behavioral and social sciences has been widely noted. The past two decades have seen continued recognition that more innovative and community-engaged approaches to research and interventions are needed to address the social and environmental determinants of population health and more specifically racial and ethnic inequities in health. Community-based participatory research (CBPR) is one such approach to community-engaged research. Within the National Institutes of Health (NIH), increased funding support for CBPR is in keeping with their mission statement, as well as the overarching research capacity-building priorities delineated in the NIH Health Disparities Strategic Plan 2009-2013, and select Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (OBSSR) research goals. As the need for and opportunities to expand CBPR increases, so does the need to enhance capacity in innovative methods for researchers conducting behavioral and social sciences research (BSSR) to use this approach. Not only is CBPR an innovative approach in and of itself for many researchers conducting BSSR, there are also several specific innovations within the context of a CBPR approach that are particularly relevant to the mission of NIH. These innovative methods include the integrated use of mixed methods (combining qualitative and quantitative methods), and innovative research designs that complement randomized controlled designs. Although numerous educational materials on CBPR have been developed in recent years, there are few opportunities for both early-career and established researchers to engage in a co-learning process facilitated by experienced academic-community faculty teams. Further, there is a need to promote the diversity of the BSSR workforce, including increasing participation of researchers from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups. Thus, the overarching goal of the proposed research education program, Community-Based Participatory Research: Enhancing Capacity to Use Innovative Methodologies in the Behavioral and Social Sciences (the Enhance Program), is to enhance knowledge and skills in the use of innovative methodologies in CBPR, in partnership with the communities involved, to address and eliminate health inequities. The three-pronged approach of the Enhance Program is: 1) to develop and implement an intensive short course in innovative methodologies in CBPR for conducting BSSR; 2) to extend and apply innovative methods in CBPR from the short course through a year-long educational program, including, on-line learning activities, expert mentoring, and peer engagement; and 3) to establish a network of diverse scholars to foster continued learning, career development, and innovation in BSSR using a CBPR approach to promote health equity. An evaluation will be conducted to determine and enhance program effectiveness, and materials will be widely disseminated.

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