Principle 7:

A cyclical process that supports community action and social change

CBPR involves a cyclical, iterative process (see Figure 2) that includes partnership development and maintenance, community assessment, problem definition, development of research methodology, data collection and analysis, interpretation of data, determination of action and policy implications, dissemination of results, action taking and the establishment of mechanisms for sustainability. It includes learning research skills and how they can be applied in a local setting using community knowledge that reflects teaching and learning practices. CBPR goes through a continuous cycle of stages such as: initial mobilisation, establishing organisational structure, strengthening capacity, knowledge acquisition, planning for action, implementation, observation and reflection and the development of concepts and generalisations.

Figure 2 The cyclical (non-linear) steps within CBPR
Figure 2 The cyclical (non-linear) steps within CBPR

Capacities (competencies and conditions)

        Ability to adapt the cyclical approach and flip between stages

        Competency in goal setting, choosing research partnership members, and obtaining new or mobilising existing resources (material, social, financial) and being open and flexible, bringing in new partnerships where required

        Ability to choose, plan and apply participatory research methods and undertake co-analysis

        Ability to implement a research study, identify its strengths and limitations and draw valid conclusions

        Development of understanding of communities, the challenges they have experienced related to the health or social problem and the solutions they have tried

        Ability to understand community thoughts, feelings, experiences and differences, from different perspectives to generate ideas for how to solve the problem (21)

        Ability to design and test the different ideas within communities to solicit immediate feedback

        Ability to analyse successes and areas for improvements, to reflect on one’s experience and to assess the arguments and motivations of other stakeholders (20)

        Ability to examine ethical practice and safety during a research process

  •         Better understanding and use of research processes that lead to change

            Project evolution that is responsive to context, change and reflection

            Strengthened capacity to lead future research using a systematic and iterative approach

            Ability to utilise a range of research methods to capture information and identify community priorities and solutions

            Strengthened existing and new forms of community organisation to address priority issues

            Increased capacity of researchers to understand and respond to context and changing priorities of communities

            Greater transparency about the limitations and opportunities of the research 

  •         Draw on existing community organisation to mobilise community researcher engagement and to set engagement parameters

            Undertake a prioritisation exercise to ensure consensus across the research partnership

            Map available resources (social, political, financial, material) and identify gaps which need addressing

            Link to partnership development principles 1 and 2 to ensure diversity in the research process

            Undertake capacity strengthening activities as a research partnership to share ideas, protocols and methods

            Engage in joint problem-solving activities to prioritise and translate evidence into understandable formats that can be used to shape action.

            Develop action plans that identify gaps, causes of gaps, discrepancies and resolutions, and actions for filling gaps

            Modify actions as necessary, based on analysis of field notes and assessments following implementation at each stage of the cycle. This  ensures that each subsequent action considers feedback from prior actions and that the result captures both successes and limitations

            Engage in learning cycles of action and reflection to inform revisions to the plans (actions and indicators). Regularly re-visit the monitoring indicators to ensure that they are updated to reflect the increasing complexity of the research as the programme matures

            Use the ‘most significant change’ (MSC) technique

            Facilitate co-analysis working sessions that support the research team to engage with research data to identify challenges that should be project priorities

  •         Evidence of priority identification and selection by community partners

            Evidence of action/reflection cycles

            Evidence of co-produced research protocols with methods selection and adaptation by community partners

            Evidence of planning, action and evaluation of research cycles

            Strengthened capacity for qualitative, participatory research methods

            Strengthened capacity for quantitative research methods

            Evidence of critical evaluation of actions and learning applied in subsequent activities

            Translation and adaptation of research and communication materials and quality assurance processes

            Number of co-analysis sessions facilitated that engage all members of the research partnership

            Community mobilisation around a specific priority issue

            Multi-directional recognition of the skills and attributes of all members of the core research team in shaping the cyclical process

  •         Research methods co-designed with track changes to show reflections and updates based on community researcher input

            Live changes made during data collection activities through debrief sessions, evidenced through recordings, adapted research tools, data transcripts

            Action plans

            Observations and notes

            Audio, video or transcribed reflection and debrief meetings

            Audio visual outputs such as blogs, vlogs and podcasts

            Research cycles and outcomes

            Interviews or focus group discussions with research partners and other stakeholders engaged in the action/reflection cycle

            Documentation from co-analysis sessions

            Minutes and notes on discussions and engagement within the team and with wider stakeholders

*Please note that some statements are adaptations or direct quotes from the papers listed in the reference section