Applying the community partnership approach to human biology research

Julia Ravenscroft, Lawrence M. Schell, Tewentahawihtha Cole

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations

Abstract

Contemporary human biology research employs a unique skillset for biocultural analysis. This skillset is highly appropriate for the study of health disparities because disparities result from the interaction of social and biological factors over one or more generations. Health disparities research almost always involves disadvantaged communities owing to the relationship between social position and health in stratified societies. Successful research with disadvantaged communities involves a specific approach, the community partnership model, which creates a relationship beneficial for researcher and community. Paramount is the need for trust between partners. With trust established, partners share research goals, agree on research methods and produce results of interest and importance to all partners. Results are shared with the community as they are developed; community partners also provide input on analyses and interpretation of findings. This article describes a partnership-based, 20 year relationship between community members of the Akwesasne Mohawk Nation and researchers at the University at Albany. As with many communities facing health disparity issues, research with Native Americans and indigenous peoples generally is inherently politicized. For Akwesasne, the contamination of their lands and waters is an environmental justice issue in which the community has faced unequal exposure to, and harm by environmental toxicants. As human biologists engage in more partnership-type research, it is important to understand the long term goals of the community and what is at stake so the research circle can be closed and 'helicopter' style research avoided. Am. J. Hum. Biol. 27:6-15, 2015.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6-15
Number of pages10
JournalAmerican Journal of Human Biology
Volume27
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Anthropology
  • Genetics

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