Background: In community-based participatory research (CBPR), issues such as creating a setting where community members drive decisions and creating culturally relevant processes remain largely underachieved. The Backyard Initiative (BYI) provided the setting for implementing a community-centered collaborative research process. The BYI is a partnership between Allina Health, the Cultural Wellness Center (CWC), and community residents to improve health.

Objectives: To describe the unique community-centered method used in the 2013 BYI Community Health Survey (CHS) as a viable approach for collecting meaningful and valid health related data. With this approach, the community operates as the agent of change rather than the target.

Methods: At the core was the BYI assessment team, which brought together conventional researchers and community members to collaboratively design, implement, analyze, interpret, and disseminate the CHS results. Focusing on the CHS, this structure and process permitted and facilitated important and difficult discussions about approach, content and outcomes of the research.

Results: We held seven sessions (239 participants). Participants were 37% African American/African and 34% Native American, 65% female, and 72% spoke English at home. Achievement of our recruitment goals, participation of groups typically underrepresented in research, and positive community feedback were indications that the BYI approach to survey research was successful.

Conclusions: The BYI CHS community-centered methods built trust among research partners and participants, engaged populations often underrepresented in research, and collected meaningful data. Our success indicates that it is possible to co-design and implement a lengthy survey to inform future research and community activities.


Additional Information

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pp. 493-503
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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