Marginalized groups have historically had little voice in academic research, which has led to misrepresentation of these groups. Community-based participatory research (CBPR) has afforded marginalized groups a voice by including group members in the research process – from problem definition to dissemination. This inclusion helps ensure that research accurately represents and ultimately benefits the communities in which it is conducted (Israel, Schulz, Parker, & Becker, 1998). Despite its benefits, CBPR can be difficult to do equitably with vulnerable groups, particularly at the dissemination stage, due to time constraints and perceived lack of skills or capability (Case et al., 2014). These challenges are compounded when group members experience cognitive, mental, or physical vulnerabilities. However, inclusion in dissemination is crucial because it gives groups control over how they are represented to academic and community audiences. While CBPR academic literature often includes community members as co-authors, these members are frequently higher-powered stakeholders, such as community leaders. Co-authorship with members of marginalized groups who experience physical and mental health issues is rare.
This presentation will describe the process of co-authoring an academic article with a group of individuals who were dealing with mental and physical health issues and had recently experienced homelessness. Unfortunately, psychological literature on homelessness has tended to focus primarily on individual-deficits and deviancy (Buck, Toro, & Ramos, 2004). We hoped to challenge harmful representations of “the homeless” through a participatory publication. Published in 2018 in American Journal of Community Psychology, the resulting article presented findings from the group’s participatory Photovoice project that explored experiences with homelessness and a Housing First program (Pruitt et al., 2018). This presentation will discuss the successes and challenges of the co-authorship process, including reflections group members. It will conclude with lessons learned and implications for CBPR with vulnerable groups, especially in the dissemination phase of research.