Show Navigation

Resource Library

Community-based participatory research: A strategy for building healthy communities and promoting health through policy change

The authors of this report are convinced that effective, community-based, participatory research (CBPR) is a change strategy and that it can shape social policy.  They designed this document—which contains sample resources and tools—for community members, public health practitioners and researchers who want to use participatory research to advocate for healthy public policies.  The report was co-produced by Policy Link (an American research and action institute that advocates for economic and social equity) and the School of Public Health, University of California, Berkeley. 

CBPR is a change strategy that involves citizens and researchers equitably in a research process. It begins with a research topic that the community says is important, and combines knowledge and action, through a variety of approaches, to address that topic. For the authors, the goal of CBPR is always to “improve community health and eliminate health disparities.” (p. 10) 

The toolkit highlights eight promising practices drawn from American experiences, including 

  • Build on partners’ strengths in studying and addressing shared concerns
  • Use local approaches and processes, even if this slows down the process
  • Engage children and youth by using visual and social media to document, study, and effect change
  • Bring communities together on a regional level to improve health and the environment

The report’s six case studies from California show how CBPR can be tailored for different geographic settings and desired outcomes. The evaluation section recommends that partners take a long view on policy, asking “how did the [partnership’s] work improve the policy environment for this issue?” rather than “has the policy changed?” (p. 45).  The additional resources section contains dozens of references, grouped by topic and promising practice.  One frequently referenced resource is the Community-Campus Partnerships for Health.

Use this resource to
• Learn about tools that can guide community-based, participatory research
• Learn from the stories of community partnerships that have used a process, built commitment to it, and seen results
• Learn how to find and sustain both project partners and funding

Minkler, M., Garcia, A.P., Rubin, V. Wallerstein, N. (2012).  Community-based participatory research: A strategy for building healthy communities and promoting health through policy change.  A report to the California Endowment.  Berkeley, CA: Policy Link, University of California Berkeley. Retrieved from:


Tags: Community engagement, Healthy public policy, Intersectoral action, Knowledge translation , Methods & tools, Modify & orient, Link

Sign up for our E-News

* indicates required
I would Like to Receive Email Updates on: