Flexible roles for american indian elders in community-based participatory research

Shannon Whitewater, Kerstin M. Reinschmidt, Carmella Kahn, Agnes Attakai, Nicolette I. Teufel-Shone

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Community-based participatory research builds partnerships between communities and academic researchers to engage in research design, decision making, data collection, and dissemination of health promotion initiatives. Community-based participatory projects often have formal agreements or defined roles for community and academic partners. Our project (November 2012-November 2014) was designed to document life narratives of urban American Indian elders as a foundation for developing a resilience-based health promotion curriculum for urban American Indian adolescents aged 12 to 18. We used a flexible method for engaging community partners that honored the individual strengths of elders, encouraged them to describe how they wanted to contribute to the project, and provided multiple ways for elders to engage with university partners. We invited elders to participate in one or more of the following roles: as members of consensus panels to develop interview questions, as members of a community advisory board, or as participants in individual qualitative interviews. The flexibility of roles gave elders the opportunity to serve as advisors, co-developers, interviewees, or reviewers during 2 years of curriculum development. Engaging American Indian elders in the research process acknowledged the multiple layers of expertise they had as traditional leaders in the community while promoting trust in and ownership of the project. This flexible technique can be used by other communities that may not be comfortable with structured processes of engagement.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number150575
JournalPreventing Chronic Disease
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2016
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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