July 15, 2009

“Research” in Community-Partnered, Participatory Research

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: Jane and Terry Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior and Department of Psychiatry and BioBehavioral Sciences, David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California at Los Angeles and Department of Health Services, UCLA School of Public Health, Los Angeles, California (Dr Wells); and Healthy African American Families II and Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science, Los Angeles (Ms Jones).

JAMA. 2009;302(3):320-321. doi:10.1001/jama.2009.1033

In many underserved communities, “research” is a loaded word that sets expectations of being examined or exploited.1,2 This is more likely when data are published but not otherwise shared, such as in a community forum. Research, whether it intends to or not, may disadvantage groups by highlighting problems rather than assets. Research can thus become a symbol of distance between community reality and the “ivory tower,” where few mechanisms exist to facilitate community access to knowledge. Academics may view pursuit of knowledge as paramount and in entering research partnerships take such perspectives personally rather than as an expected subject of ongoing discussion.3

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