Building Effective Community—Academic Partnerships to Improve Health: A Qualitative Study of Perspectives from Communities

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PurposeTo identify, through a qualitative study, community perspectives on the critical factors that facilitate the development, effectiveness, and sustainability of community—academic partnerships.MethodBetween June 1998 and April 1999, 25 semistructured interviews were conducted with community members who represented eight partnerships at five academic health centers. Content analysis and open coding were performed on the data, and patterns of ideas and concepts were categorized.ResultsAfter review of the data, responses from three partnerships were excluded. Nine major themes that community respondents thought strongly influenced the effectiveness of community—academic partnerships emerged from respondents from the remaining five partnerships: (1) creation and nurturing of trust; (2) respect for a community's knowledge; (3) community-defined and prioritized needs and goals; (4) mutual division of roles and responsibilities; (5) continuous flexibility, compromise, and feedback; (6) strengthening of community capacity; (7) joint and equitable allocation of resources; (8) sustainability and community ownership; and (9) insufficient funding periods.ConclusionThe themes that emerged from this study of the perceptions and experiences of the community partners in community—academic partnerships can be critical to further developing and evolving these partnerships.

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