Finding middle ground: negotiating university and tribal community interests in community-based participatory research

Nurs Inq. 2012 Jun;19(2):116-27. doi: 10.1111/j.1440-1800.2011.00557.x. Epub 2011 Jul 15.


Community-based participatory research (CBPR) has been hailed as an alternative approach to one-sided research endeavors that have traditionally been conducted on communities as opposed to with them. Although CBPR engenders numerous relationship strengths, through its emphasis on co-sharing, mutual benefit, and community capacity building, it is often challenging as well. In this article, we describe some of the challenges of implementing CBPR in a research project designed to prevent cardiovascular disease among an indigenous community in the Pacific Northwest of the United States and how we addressed them. Specifically, we highlight the process of collaboratively constructing a Research Protocol/Data Sharing Agreement and qualitative interview guide that addressed the concerns of both university and tribal community constituents. Establishing these two items was a process of negotiation that required: (i) balancing of individual, occupational, research, and community interests; (ii) definition of terminology (e.g., ownership of data); and (iii) extensive consideration of how to best protect research participants. Finding middle ground in CBPR requires research partners to examine and articulate their own assumptions and expectations, and nurture a relationship based on compromise to effectively meet the needs of each group.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Clinical Protocols
  • Community Health Services / organization & administration
  • Community-Based Participatory Research / methods*
  • Cooperative Behavior*
  • Focus Groups
  • Humans
  • Indians, North American*
  • Negotiating*
  • Northwestern United States
  • Qualitative Research
  • United States
  • Universities*