Navigating the Tide Together: Early Collaboration between Tribal and Academic Partners in a CBPR Study


Community-based participatory research (CBPR) approaches stress the importance of building strong, cohesive collaborations between academic researchers and partnering communities; yet there is minimal research examining the actual quality of CBPR partnerships. The objective of the present paper is to describe and explore the quality of collaborative relationships across the first two years of the Healing of the Canoe project teams, comprising researchers from the University of Washington and community partners from the Suquamish Tribe. Three quantitative/qualitative process measures were used to assess perceptions regarding collaborative processes and aspects of meeting effectiveness. Staff meetings were primarily viewed as cohesive, with clear agendas and shared communication. Collaborative processes were perceived as generally positive, with tribal empowerment rated as especially important. Additionally, effective leadership and flexibility were highly rated while a need for a stronger community voice in decision making was noted. Steady improvements were found in trust between research teams, and both research teams reported a need for more intra-team project- and social-focused interaction. Overall, this data reveals a solid CBPR collaboration that is making effective strides in fostering a climate of respect, trust, and open communication between research partners.

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