course ID: 2.1

Community Based Participatory Methods in Public Health


  • Why is CBPR important?
  • How does CBPR differ from other approaches in defining problems, gathering information and using results?
  • Key concepts and approaches of participatory research. Participatory approaches to research design, process, analysis, dissemination and implementation: Community Action Research (CAR) and Collaborative Inquiry; participatory learning and action and community asset-based approach; community-based social marketing.
  • Methods: ethnography; interviews and focus groups; participatory mapping; mapping social and environmental influences on health. 
  • Applications of CBPR in public health (examples and challenges).
  • Theory and practice of co-creation – How to ‘co-create’ with stakeholders, community members, professionals, policymakers and service providers.
  • Capacity building and stakeholder engagement
  • Ethics and challenges in CBPR.


The importance of Community-Based Participatory Research (CBPR) methods and approaches has grown significantly in health science in the last decades. This is in line with the shift towards ecological models which bring the community at the heart of interventions and focus on engaging individuals, hospitals, health service providers, social organisations, and government officials to develop partnerships and co-create positive change. CBPR approaches position researchers and communities as partners who engage in the design, execution, and application of research. CBPR aims to facilitate a co-learning process for capacity building and empowerment so that public health programmes and interventions respond to local realities. CBPR is suitable for research with groups and communities such as: patient groups; groups with shared risks or vulnerabilities; geographically defined communities; grassroots organisations; minority populations; groups with shared circumstances or engaging in similar work.

This course aims to provide participants with knowledge about the key principles, methods, concepts and techniques of community-based participatory research and the practical application of such research in the context of public health. Participants will have an opportunity to explore how CBPR can be applied in the design, implementation and evaluation of public health programmes (i.e. health promotion, prevention of disease and management of chronic illness).

At the end of the course participants will be able to:

  • Understand why and for which purposes CBPR methods are useful;
  • Understand the key concepts, methods, and applications of CBPR;
  • Understand how to apply community-based participatory methods in health programmes;
  • Understand which participatory methods to use for community-based interventions.
  • Be able to critically assess the strengths and limitations of community-based participatory methods in public health.

Nadina Luca

ESMA board member

Lecturer in Marketing, University of York (UK)