What is CBPR? It is an approach to developing partnerships with community residents to conduct research that equitably involves community members, organizational representatives, researchers, and others in all aspects of the research process. Each member is encouraged to contribute their expertise and skills while sharing in the decision-making. The intent for using this approach is to increase knowledge and understanding of an issue and to partner to identify and execute initiatives designed to impact policy or social change benefiting the community.

Healthy Alamance began a CBPR partnership with Elon University in 2017 that has influenced our work in many ways. The concepts of shared power and decision-making have shifted our organization’s approach to public health initiatives. By starting at a place of partnership with the community, an organization can more fully understand how to use its available resources to support the health of the community. In order to do this, one has to be willing to slow down the work, invest in developing relationships, and create space to listen. Coupling this process by prioritizing health equity allows us to see the root causes of health issues more clearly. It is this space where true change can take root.

In our most recent Community Health Assessment (CHA) CHA 2018
we attempted to begin the process of partnering with the community to ensure health institutions commit to both authentic relationships and to addressing root causes of issues with economy, education, and access to care in Alamance County. On pages 10 and 11, we highlight using CBPR to initiate an ongoing partnership with the community to put a process in place for collecting the narratives of those least well-represented in previous assessments, developing an assessment which puts health equity at the center of the document, and crafting solutions with the communities affected most, all while holding each other accountable for these solutions. Some residents who participated in the process have continued on this journey with us by forming a Health Equity Collective. This collective, comprised of community residents and open to new members, has created a contract for how we work together and how we would like to move forward. Members are exploring concepts of racial equity, the effects systemic racism has on our health, and beginning to form challenging questions for healthcare institutions to answer. 

This is just the beginning. Each year, we will hold a forum for interested residents to join in this process, building a collective of Alamance County residents invested together in improving issues related to housing, food insecurity, safety, income, and other areas that impact our quality of life.