McKinsey, E., & Pruitt, A. S.
The Community Psychologist, 52(3), 65-68.
Publication year: 2019

Community-based participatory research (CBPR) and community psychology share similar values and goals, both emphasizing collaboration, power-sharing, citizen participation, and social action. Because of these shared values and CBPR’s documented benefits to marginalized communities, CBPR is becoming increasingly common in community psychology research. Much work exists discussing the difficulties of conducting CBPR, pointing to issues related to power-sharing, IRB navigation, time, managing diverse agendas, and barriers to participation (Israel, Schulz, Parker, & Becker, 1998; Lowry & Ford-Paz, 2013). However, these difficulties often are discussed from the perspective of academic researchers or higher-powered community partners. Perspectives of vulnerable  group members, like individuals experiencing homelessness or severe mental illness, are rarer but important for understanding CBPR process effects (Rasmus, 2014). We discuss the difficulties that arose for our community partners—a group of Housing First “clients”—and the ways in which we as community psychologists (CPs) worked with them to address these issues. In particular, we discuss how increased community ownership of the project was associated with unique and unexpected challenges for these partners. While increased ownership and participation is a CBPR goal, researchers often neglect to consider the issues vulnerable community partners face when they take on a researcher role.