Engagement strategies that foster community self-determination in participatory research: Insider ownership through outsider championship

Jon Salsberg*, Soultana Macridis, Enrique Garcia Bengoechea, Ann C. Macaulay, Spencer Moore

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Background. In order to maximize the benefits of community-based participatory research, effective ownership over the research process must be at least equally in the hands of the community. A previous social network analysis documented that the participatory research process shifted ownership from academic to community partners, but did not show what actions and strategies fostered this shift. Objectives. This study follows the trajectory of a community-academic partnership and asks, from the perspective of the project stakeholders, which actions and strategies over the lifespan of the research led to the observed shift in ownership and decision-making from the original external academics to the community stakeholders? Methods. Qualitative description using inductive thematic analysis. One academic and five community stakeholders identified as central in a previous social network analysis, participated in retrospective, semi-structured interviews. Results. Actions deemed to have fostered the observed shift in ownership included: existence of a strong champion; stimulating 'outside' ideas; emergence of core people; alignment of project goals with stakeholders' professional roles; involving the right people; personal qualities of the champion; trust-building; and active use of participatory engagement strategies. Conclusion. Although communities must take ownership over the research process to assure sustained action and change, a strong, trusted and accepted outside champion who actively enacts participatory engagement strategies can facilitate the participatory process and provide community stakeholders the time and support they need to achieve meaningful and sustained leadership roles. These findings have implications for how partnership research is designed and implemented, both in community and in clinical organisational settings.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)336-340
Number of pages5
JournalFamily Practice
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Aboriginal health/native populations
  • Culture and disease/cross-cultural issues
  • Health promotion
  • Prevention
  • Public health
  • Underserved populations

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