Date of Award

Spring 4-10-2024

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Public Health (DrPH)


Public Health

First Advisor

Dr. Jacque-Corey Cormier

Second Advisor

Dr. Harry Heiman

Third Advisor

Dr. Rebecca Watts Hull


Purpose: Community based participatory action research (CBPAR) is a key strategy to address persistent health inequities, which are rooted in complex social dynamics. CBPAR utilizes collaborative partnerships between professional researchers and affected communities to address these issues. Across metropolitan Atlanta, numerous CBPAR initiatives have engaged community members and/or community-based organizations (CBOs), but few of these partnerships were sustained. Literature suggests that sustained, equitable community-academic partnerships based in CBPAR principles are critical to achieving health equity. However, there are many factors that can influence the success of a community-academic partnership.

Methods: The Greater Atlanta Citizen Science Collaboratory (“Collaboratory”) was founded between community and academic collaborators in order to establish a formal partnership structure for multiple CBOs and academic institutions. In collaboration with the Collaboratory, this research engaged community and CBO representatives who had been involved in CBPAR initiatives in metropolitan Atlanta in order to better understand the factors that enable or impede a successful partnership. This research identified potential participants through network sampling with the Collaboratory members and the available literature, resulting in semi-structured interviews with fifteen community partners. The interviews were analyzed through thematic coding and development of vignettes.

Results: The data affirmed the value of community-academic partnerships and CBPAR approaches to addressing community priorities. It emphasized the mutual benefits sought and achieved by such partnerships, as well as the ways that partnerships supported the capacity of both academic and community partners to work more effectively together. The interviews highlighted the importance of individual relationships between community and academic partners, and key factors to strengthen and sustain them. This research also revealed additional gaps that need to be addressed in order to achieve greater power-sharing and more significant outcomes for communities, and to reduce burdens on their time and resources.

Conclusion: This research supports efforts to strengthen and sustain the capacity and infrastructure for partnerships between community representatives and academic researchers. Based on the data, recommendations have been developed that will support community and academic partnering capacity, increase partnership opportunities, and contribute to more successful collaboration. The results will be disseminated to inform the Collaboratory members and other researchers.


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