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Table 2 Strengths and limitations of community-based research (CBR) for linking research to action

From: Community-based knowledge transfer and exchange: Helping community-based organizations link research to action

Types of KTE Activities CBR strengths CBR limitations
Fostering a culture that supports research use ▪ Funding typically requires partnerships between researchers and community members and/or CBOs (e.g., funding calls from the National Institutes of Health in the U.S., the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council in Canada). ▪ Scope of partnerships often limited as community partners are often those that already have a culture that supports the use of research evidence.
  ▪ Emphasis on capacity building and actionable outcomes resonates well with the grass roots orientation of many CBOs. ▪ Often no dedicated funding for linking CBR to action (as opposed to funding to conduct the research).
   ▪ The process-oriented nature of CBR can push a project beyond initial timelines, limiting the ability of some partners to remain engaged long-term.
   ▪ Those who have the most influence on CBO culture (e.g., Executive Directors) are not always included as the community partner from a CBO.
Production of research to key target audiences ▪ CBR projects are often developed through consultation with local communities in order to ensure they are addressing community relevant issues and needs. ▪ CBR projects typically take the form of single locally-based studies and not systematic reviews of studies conducted across a range of communities.
   ▪ CBR projects are not typically written up in a way that puts the findings in the context of the global pool of knowledge.
Activities to link research to action   
   'Push' ▪ Dissemination of actionable messages is often strong at the local level through the use existing networks and partnerships. ▪ Actionable messages derived from CBR projects often not shared on a larger scale (i.e., outside the communities in which the CBR projects were conducted) despite their potential broader applicability.
   ▪ 'Push' efforts in communities limited to projects conducted locally (i.e., potentially informative projects from other communities are not actively 'pushed' to relevant target audiences).
   ▪ Minimal capacity building designed specifically for enhancing 'push' efforts.
Facilitating 'pull' ▪ Capacity-building for research within communities and CBOs through participation in CBR projects is a central goal of the CBR approach. ▪ No capacity building in acquiring, assessing, adapting, and applying research evidence.
   ▪ Few 'one-stop shopping' websites or resources exist that provide user-friendly, high-quality, and community--relevant research evidence (e.g., CBR and/or community-relevant systematic reviews) with the actionable messages clearly identified.
   'Pull' ▪ Some CBOs and communities are effective at identifying research needs and partnering in CBR projects or seeking out research evidence. ▪ CBOs typically don't have in place mechanisms to prompt them to review their programming in light of the available research evidence (either on a rotating basis for select programs or all at once during strategic planning).
   ▪ Smaller CBOs do not always have the capacity, resources or time to acquire, assess, adapt and apply research evidence in their settings.
   'Exchange' ▪ Equitable partnerships between community, researchers and other stakeholders are a core requirement of the CBR approach. ▪ Scope of partnerships often limited to the same researchers and community partners in many projects. Many not representative of the breadth of perspectives in the community.
   ▪ Other stakeholders (e.g., healthcare managers and policymakers not always sought (or available) for partnerships.
Evaluation ▪ Some projects have systematically evaluated the types of topics previously addressed by CBR and the quality of those projects in order to inform future research and funding initiatives [31]. ▪ Minimal efforts in the community sector to evaluate the impact of CBR and other community-based KTE strategies on action beyond those communities most directly involved in the CBR.
   ▪ If evaluations of the impact of research are completed, they may be done by the researchers of the study, thereby introducing a source of bias.
  1. Acronyms used: CBO = community-based organizations, CBR = community-based research, KTE = knowledge transfer and exchange