PAN’s research and evaluation work is based on the principles of community-based research, which place community partnerships front and center. Researchers work with community to explore issues and decide what research questions to ask for the benefit of the community.
CBR is by nature:
- Collaborative: The communities in which the research is taking place are full partners in all stages of the process.
- Change-oriented: Although community-based research can make important contributions to knowledge, its ultimate objective is to promote positive social change.
- Inclusive: Community-based research recognizes and values the unique strengths and perspectives of all team members involved in the research process.
Research questions shape what information will be gathered. Once that information – “data” – is gathered, it is analyzed for quantitative results (measuring information in numbers, e.g.; 8 out of 10 people said that housing is hard to find), qualitative results (themes that emerge from what people say and how they describe their experiences), or a mix of the two. The heart of community-based research includes a Knowledge Translation (KT) plan.
Knowledge Translation Takes Shape
When we speak about ‘Knowledge Translation (KT)’ activities, we are talking about taking findings from research– the numbers and/or themes described above, for example – and translating them into ‘KT tools’ that make it easier for people to apply or use the research findings. These tools may include presentations, posters, training events, or other things people can use to improve their understanding of an issue and/or make desired change. CBR KT tools are developed to meet audience needs, not those of the researchers, so may differ depending on audience. While a multi-part report might be suitable for one audience, an image-based tool that is low-barrier may be best suited for folks with literacy challenges.
PAN is moving into the KT phase of two CBR studies: the BC Stigma Index and Positive Living Positive Homes. The BC People Living with HIV Stigma Index Project (often referred to at PAN as “the Stigma Index” for short) came out of a community-identified need to turn the tide against persistent HIV stigma and discrimination. Positive Living, Positive Homes (PLPH) was developed in response to the community’s identification of housing as a critical health determinant for people living with, or at risk of, HIV.
Both the Stigma Index and PLPH are now in the data analysis phase of the work. The Stigma Index Peer Research Associates have met to discuss the kinds of stories – the qualitative observations – that emerged while they completed over 180 surveys with people living with HIV. A detailed analysis of the quantitative information gathered through the surveys is underway. We anticipate we will be gathering some more qualitative information to fill out our findings.
The PLPH research team is well underway with its analysis of the qualitative interview data from 99 participants living with HIV, along with data from 40 service providers and policy makers working in the HIV and housing sectors. Some initial findings were shared at data parties in each of the study sites (Greater Vancouver, Prince George and Kamloops) as part of ongoing KT efforts. The data parties also provided some future directions on KT activities and KT tool development.
Once we have fuller pictures of the statistics, themes, and trends emerging from these two projects, the community working groups behind the two studies will decide how and where to share the information so that it will have the best impacts. We look forward to providing more updates about these projects and their results as the process moves along.
Questions? Feedback? Get in touch! Janet Madsen, Capacity Building and Knowledge Translation Coordinator, [email protected]