CPBR vs. Traditional Health Planning

How CBPR Differs from Traditional Research

There are different kinds of ways that CBPR differs from traditional health planning. This section of the paper shows five areas, which highlight these differences. They include the process of identifying health concerns, the process of designing studies, participant recruitment and selection process, selection of measurement instruments, and the analysis and interpretation of data (Washington Education, 2016). The section below explains these differences

Explanation of how they differ

The differences between CBPR and traditional health planning, based on the five research areas described above, appear below.

  • Health identification concerns: CBPR requires the full participation of community members when identifying health issues (Leung, Yen, & Minkler, 2004). It also provides motivation for group members to participate in health research. In traditional health planning, the process of identifying health issues stems from an analysis of epidemiological data and resource limitations (Bracht, 1999).
  • Study Designed and Seeking Funding: In CBPR, community members participate in developing the research design, thereby increasing the chances of community members accepting the research and its findings/recommendations (Minkler & Wallerstein, 2008).
  • Funding also covers community interests in the research. In traditional health planning, the design of health studies stems from scientific rigor. Research funding is also primarily for paying for research experiences (Washington Education, 2016).
  • Participants Recruitment and Retention Systems: In CBPR, community members have a say regarding whom the researcher should include as participants in research (Bracht, 1999). This process enhances the recruitment and retention process. In traditional health planning, scientific considerations inform choices for recruiting participants. A researcher’s “best guesses” also inform a study’s ability to address community concerns (Washington Education, 2016).
  • Design of measurement instruments and data collection methods: In CBPR, the process of designing and selecting data measurement tools involves community members. Researchers test also the data measurement tools on volunteers (Washington Education, 2016). This research method has increased the reliability and validity of measurement instruments because researchers address potentially sensitive issues early on in the research. In traditional health planning, past studies provide the justification for the use of selected data measurement tools. Researchers also use psychometric methods to test data measurement tools (Leung et al., 2004).
  • Data Analysis and Interpretation processes: In CBPR, community members are actively involved in the interpretation and dissemination of research information.

There is also a strong sensitivity to community culture and social norms, thereby increasing the potential for translating the findings into practical use (Leung et al., 2004). In traditional health planning, the researchers report their findings to peer-reviewed journals after using statistical analysis methods to analyze their findings (Washington Education, 2016).

Based on the above data, we find that CBPR distinctively differs from traditional health research methods because it is more inclusive of community interests at every stage of the research process. Conversely, we also find that traditional research methods are more detached from community interests because of their strong reliance on scientific methods of assessment (Leung et al., 2004; Washington Education, 2016).

An example of how we could apply each of the five elements discussed above

A study by Leung et al. (2004) reveals how researchers could use CBPR principles to improve the relevance of their studies in present-day societies. This section of the paper demonstrates how researchers could use CPBR to promote environmental justice because the success of environmental health programs and the implementation of its associated policies depend on community participation (Schwab, 1997). The following section of this report explains how the five areas of distinction (between CBPR and traditional research) would apply to this example.

  • Health Identification: By applying the concepts of CBPR in environmental health, proponents of environmental justice could better understand the context in which diseases caused by environmental pollution occur (Leung et al., 2004).
  • Study Design and Seeking Funds: Adopting CBPR principles in environmental health research could help researchers to develop new research questions in their area of study. Indeed, by doing so, CBPR could paint a more complex and accurate picture of risk in the epidemiological context (better than the traditional health research model would) (Leung et al., 2004). This contribution would help proponents of environmental justice to have a better understanding of how they could better improve the quality of their services in the community.
  • Recruiting Participants: Adopting the principles of CBPR through the involvement of community members in the recruitment and selection process could help epidemiologists gain access to hard-to-reach pollutions who would not have chosen to participate in a study without encouragement from community members (Schwab, 1997).
  • Developing Measurement Tools: Most of the health concerns that stem from environmental pollution are difficult to measure because of the difficulty of assessing the extent of “good” and “bad” environmental actions (Leung et al., 2004). Adopting CBPR principles when promoting environmental justice could help to clarify this issue and improve litigation. For example, the 1979 case where residents of Houston’s Northwood Manor opposed the creation of a waste facility in their neighborhood explains the power of CBPR in promoting environmental justice (Washington Education, 2016).
  • Data Interpretation and Analysis: Applying CBPR concepts could help identify the connections between problems and issues associated with epidemiological studies in environmental research (Leung et al., 2004). In this regard, the CBPR process could help advocate for more aggressive policy changes to promote environmental justice and improve community health outcomes in the same area of study.


Bracht, N. F. (1999). Health promotion at the community level: New advances (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Leung, M. W., Yen, I. H., & Minkler, M. (2004). Community-based participatory research: A promising approach for increasing epidemiology’s relevance in the 21st century. International Journal of Epidemiology, 33(3), 499–506.

Minkler, M., & Wallerstein, N. (Eds.). (2008). Community-based participatory research for health: From process to outcomes (2nd ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Schwab, M. (1997). Sharing power: Participatory public health research with California teens. Social Justice, 24(3), 11–22.

Washington Education. (2016). Definitions, Rationale and Key Principles in CBPR. Web.

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