Lessons learned in the practice of community-based participatory research with community partner collaboration in study design and implementation: the community scientist model

Cancer Causes Control. 2023 Jul;34(7):621-624. doi: 10.1007/s10552-023-01699-7. Epub 2023 Apr 21.


Engagement of community participation is an innovative driver of modern research. However, to benefit the communities being studied, it is imperative to continuously evaluate ethical considerations, the relationship dynamic between researchers and community members, and the responsiveness of research teams to the needs and preferences of communities. Northwestern University's Center for Health Equity Transformation founded a community scientist program in 2018 that implemented a study using the Community-Based Participatory Research (CBPR) model. This project is an ongoing study of heavy metal exposure by geographic location in Chicago. Community scientists from various backgrounds, communities, and organizations formed an advisory panel, partnering with the cancer research team. This commentary describes lessons learned in structuring meaningful community involvement and benefit in CBPR, with a focus on three lessons learned that relate to ethics, relationships, and responsiveness. Our findings lay new groundwork for iteratively shaping best practices in CBPR.

Keywords: CBPR; Collaboration; Community; Community-based participatory research; Ethics.

MeSH terms

  • Chicago
  • Community-Based Participatory Research*
  • Humans
  • Physicians*
  • Research Design