Ties That Bind: Creating and sustaining community-academic partnerships

Kynna N. Wright
Pluscinda Williams
Shekinah Wright
Eli Lieber
Steven R. Carrasco
Haik Gedjeyan


Growing interest among academics and health professionals in finding new ways to study and address complex health and social problems has manifested in recent years with increasing community demands for research and program implementation that is community-based, rather than merely community placed. In the United States, community-based participatory research (CBPR), with its emphasis on the creation and use of community-university or community-academic partnerships, is the prevailing paradigm to address these complex problems, especially those concerning racial/ethnic disparities in health and health care. While the need to strengthen the relationship between researchers and the community has been recognised, often from the viewpoint of the university partner, discussions on sustainability of partnerships have been few. The aim of this paper is to share reflections, through the eyes of the community members, on the core elements that tie community and academic members together and the challenges in understanding and nurturing those ties so that the community-academic partnership is sustained over time, and to offer possible recommendations for sustainability. This article speaks from the community’s perspective and reflects on the vital elements/components that tie together community-university partnerships and the challenges that may occur when trying to sustain and grow the partnership. It is based on a research CBPR study that was conducted to (1) evaluate the functioning and future sustainability of the community-university partnership of the Community Child Health Network Study Los Angeles (CCHN-LA) community-university partnership, and (2) evaluate the experience and beliefs of the current CCHN-LA community-university partnership members in their understanding of current functioning.

Community-academic partnerships; sustainability; challenges; solutions

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5130/ijcre.v4i0.1784