Community-Based Participatory Research With African American Men in Faith-Based Populations: An Opportunity to Design Innovative and Impactful Qualitative Public Health Communication Research Studies

Abstract

In 2009, I began volunteering with Drs. Allen Greiner and Christine Daley at the University of Kansas Medical Center. I was conducting Health Communication research at the university’s main campus in Lawrence, Kansas, and had not heard nor realized the magnitude of Community-Based Participatory Research. My role as a volunteer faculty affiliate on projects at the Medical Center from 2009 to 2011 gave me a working knowledge about Community-Based Participatory Research and propelled me into a project of my own with several faith-based organizations (FBOs) in the greater Kansas City area. A Minority Supplement in 2010 and a Career Development Award in 2011 from the National Cancer Institute allowed me to gather critical data from and with faith-based organizations and African American populations. These awards afforded me the opportunity to inform research I had hoped to conduct on the role of trusted organizations as health communication vehicles of disease prevention. This case study chronicles the process of a multi-year project and how this process informed qualitative data methodology, including both data collection and analysis, among African American men. The intention of this case study is to give the reader a front-row seat into the world of designing qualitative research with and for African American men. The case also provides an account of some of the methodological and situational barriers to Community-Based Participatory Research that may arise with vulnerable populations. Finally, this case uncovers specific challenges to cultivating, engaging, and recruiting African American faith-based organizations in community-engaged research projects and ultimately sustaining those relationships once they have been established. These challenges, however, highlight the importance and opportunities of Community-Based Participatory Research and how qualitative inquiry is a natural extension of this approach.

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