Evidence Library

Title: The tools to understand: Community as co-researcher on culture-specific protective factors for Alaska natives.
Author: Allen, J., Mohatt, G., Rasmus, S., Hazel, K., Thomas, L. & Lindley, S.
Date Published: 2006
Reference: Journal of Prevention and Intervention in the Community, 32(1-2), 41-60.
Are service users or carers authors: No/Not Known


This article reports on a collaboration between researchers and Alaska Native communities in two studies about promoting sobriety.

Community members were involved as members of a co-ordinating council co-directing the project and as research staff, field workers and translators. They provided input into the design, structure and content of interview schedules, conducted a number of the interviews and helped with the data analysis.

The involvement of community members:

  • gave legitimacy to the study
  • led to a focus on sobriety rather than alcoholism
  • helped with recruiting participants - community researchers were more successful in recruitment because they knew the community and spoke the language
  • helped engage participants - this facilitated the collection of rich, descriptive data
  • gave the university researchers an enhanced and deeper understanding of the data
  • ensured the interpretation of the data was culturally grounded and informed by the community's perspective thus increasing the credibility and validity of the findings
  • ensured there was an immediate and tangible outcome from the research that directly benefited the community.

Community co-researchers benefited personally from hearing other people's stories about how they coped with alcohol abuse. This helped one individual cope better with his own alochol problem. They also developed and improved their research skills throughout the course of the project, which encouraged another individual to enrol at graduate school.

The university researchers benefited from learning about how to engage with Native communities and about the types of research procedures that  are acceptable to those communities.

The project has led to the development of a new intervention that will be tested in future. The research has provided evidence that the model intervention is culturally relevant which will be important in future funding applications.

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Related entry: none currently available

Categories: public health
Identifying topics, prioritising and commissioning
Designing research
Managing research
Undertaking research
Analysing and interpreting
impact on research
impact on service users involved
impact on researchers
impact on implementation and change
impact of public involvement
journal article
Implementation and change

Date Entered: 2009/01/27

Date Edited: 2012/11/20

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