Introduction: Integrating research and action represents a goal and key principles of community-based participatory research (CBPR), but there has been little effort to synthesise the literature to evaluate whether such integration is occurring.
Objectives: (1) To examine the extent to which CBPR integrates action to effect community-level change and (2) to ascertain factors that facilitate such integration.
Methods: Original articles reporting on CBPR in environmental and occupational health in the USA were identified primarily through a MEDLINE search. Inceptions, processes, methods and outcomes of the projects were reviewed.
Results: In 14 of the 20 studies reviewed, CBPR led to community-level action to improve the health and well-being of the community members. Observational studies that investigated problems posed by the affected community and that incorporated qualitative methods were more likely to lead to action. The collaboration among government scientists, university researchers and community partners emerged as a new model of CBPR partnerships that effectively integrates research and action.
Conclusions: To help CBPR better integrate research and action, a shift towards community-initiated and action-oriented observational studies might be needed.
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Competing interests: None declared.