Objectives: In the first nationwide study of community– academic research partnerships, we identified contextual and partnership practices that were significantly correlated with successful partnership outcomes guided by a community-based participatory research (CBPR) conceptual model.

Methods: Data collection included three stages: 294 community-engaged research (CEnR) projects in 2009 identified from federally funded grant databases; 200 (68.0%) principal investigators (PI) completed a key informant survey that included measures of power/resource sharing and structural characteristics of projects; 312 (77.2% of invited) community partners and 138 PI (69.0% of invited) responded to a survey including research context, process, and outcome measures.

Results: Context and process correlates accounted for 21% to 67% of the variance in the specific outcomes. Seven categories of research partnership practices were positively associated with successful synergy, capacity, and health outcomes: power sharing, partnership capacity, bridging social capital, shared values, community involvement in research, mutuality, and ethical management.

Conclusions: Through empirical testing of an innovative, multidisciplinary CBPR model, key context and process practices were identified that confirm the positive impact of partnership evaluation and self-reflection on research outcomes. Further, these findings provide academic and other key stakeholders with real-world practical recommendations to engage agencies, groups, and individuals who suffer most from inequities and may have unrecognized or indigenous knowledge, experience, and leadership to contribute to health and social research and to the creation of paths to wellness.