Objectives: To determine what ethnic and racial minority women recommend as the best approaches to participatory health research in their communities. To achieve this goal, this study focused on HIV prevention research.
Methods: In 2003, Seven African American and seven Latina women (ages 33 to 52), all members of an HIV Prevention Collaborative Board, participated in individual interviews, lasting about 90 minutes each. Participants discussed their involvement in participatory research, and made recommendations as to how health researchers might better engage their communities. Data were coded independently by two coders following standard procedure for content analysis.
Results: Women's voices and expertise can help guide health-related research. This study shows that: (1) participatory HIV prevention research should be founded on trust and commitment, leading to social support; (2) research partners ought to come from diverse backgrounds and be knowledgeable about the community and willing to work on common objectives; and (3) collaborative partnerships ought to portray an image of strength and cohesion, and a clear articulation of the mission around a research project.
Implications: To develop meaningful health research, researchers need to establish long-term ongoing relationships with community collaborators, including minority women from diverse backgrounds. Researchers ought to take a holistic approach working with communities, and ought to consider their research interests vis-a-vis the community's needs.