Research partnerships between academic institutions and American Indian and Alaska Native Tribes and organizations: effective strategies and lessons learned in a multisite CTN study

Lisa Rey Thomas, Carmen Rosa, Alyssa Forcehimes, Dennis M Donovan
American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse 2011, 37 (5): 333-8

BACKGROUND: Community Based and Tribally Based Participatory Research (CBPR/TPR) are approaches that can be successful for developing ethical and effective research partnerships between academic institutions and Tribes and Native organizations.

OBJECTIVES: The NIDA Clinical Trials Network funded a multi-site, exploratory study using CBPR/TPR to begin to better understand substance abuse issues of concern to some Tribes and Native organizations as well as strengths and resources that exist in these communities to address these concerns. Attention was paid to the development and maintenance of research partnerships in each of the sites.

METHODS: Each of the five partnerships is briefly described and common as well as unique challenges and successes are identified.

RESULTS: A summary of the common themes for developing these collaborative research efforts is provided.

CONCLUSION: True, collaborative research partnerships require a great deal of time and effort in order to develop mutual trust, understanding, knowledge, and collaboration that will guide research that is rigorous as well as ethical, effective, and culturally appropriate.

SCIENTIFIC SIGNIFICANCE: As AIAN communities become increasingly sophisticated partners in, and consumers of, research, CBPR and TPR are emerging as effective, ethical, culturally appropriate, and acceptable approaches. This can serve to improve the science we engage in with AIAN communities, add to the scarce literature regarding AIAN communities, and better serve AIAN communities in addressing health disparities and improving health.

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