"a place at the table: " A qualitative analysis of community board members' experiences with academic HIV/AIDS research

Stella Safo, Chinazo O. Cunningham, Alice Beckman, Lorlette Haughton, Joanna L. Starrels

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

5 Scopus citations


Background: Community advisory boards (CAB) are proposed as one mechanism to carry out successful community based participatory research (CBPR), but the presence of CABs may be insufficient to optimize academic-community partnerships. Methods: We conducted semi-structured interviews with minority members of a CAB partnered with a HIV/AIDS research center and identified three themes. Results: First, lack of trust in researchers included two subthemes: researchers' lacked respect for community-based organizations' (CBO's) interests and paid inadequate attention to building trust. Second, power imbalance included three subthemes: CAB members felt like inferior "token" members, felt that a lack of communication led to disempowerment, and held preconceived beliefs of researchers that led to perceived power imbalance. Third, CAB members suggested best practices, including using collaborations to build trust, actively allocating power, and sharing tangible research benefits with CBOs. Conclusions: Our findings indicate that CABs must be founded on trust and instilled with power to meet the tenets of CBPR.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number80
JournalBMC Medical Research Methodology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jul 11 2016



  • Academic-community partnerships
  • Community advisory boards
  • Community based participatory research

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Informatics
  • Epidemiology

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