Community-based research projects are critically needed to reduce health disparities and ensure the delivery of health care that is culturally appropriate and relevant to families and communities. The purpose of this article is to share experiences and lessons learned from utilizing a participatory action approach in a series of five subprojects within the Indian Family Stories Project. Participatory action research (PAR) focuses on identifying community needs and designing action plans in partnership with the community. To effectively implement PAR projects, investigators need to: (a) Build and maintain strong, collaborative working relationships with a broad network of community representatives, (b) Secure funding that addresses community needs and provides mechanisms for giving back to the community, (c) Ensure that the project fits the particular cultural and community context, (d) Evaluate and adapt the project as needed, (e) Keep the community informed, (f) Develop sustainable community resources, and (g) Advocate on behalf of the community.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
Adequate funding from sources that supported community involvement and addressed community-identified needs was also essential to achieving action plan goals. Each of the five projects within the IFSP was funded by different grants. Funding the IFSP project in phases helped us focus on particular aspects of the action plan and be responsive to changing community needs.