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. Increased funding support for CBPR is in keeping with the mission statement of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the research capacity- building priorities delineated in the NIH Health Disparities Strategic Plan 2009-2013, and select research goals of the Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (OBSSR). 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 examine and address health inequities. The proposed Enhance Program will be carried out by the Detroit Community-Academic Urban Research Center (Detroit URC), a CBPR partnership established in 1995 to understand and address factors that contribute to health inequities in Detroit. The two- pronged approach of the Enhance Program is: 1) to develop, implement, and evaluate an intensive short course in innovative methodologies in CBPR for conducting behavioral and social sciences research; and 2) to enhance and integrate learning from the short course through a series of follow-on educational activities, an applied CBPR project, mentoring, and development of a network of diverse scholars for career development and innovation in BSSR using a CBPR approach to promote health equity. An evaluation will be conducted to assess and enhance program effectiveness. The curriculum and other materials will be widely disseminated.
To solve complex public health problems, community-based participatory research (CBPR), a collaborative, participatory approach between academic and community partners is particularly effective. CBPR is an innovative approach for researchers conducting behavioral and social sciences research and numerous innovative methods are relevant within this approach. This program aims to build the capacity of academic and community partners to implement CBPR principles and innovative methodologies in their work.