• community-based participatory research;
  • asthma;
  • partnership;
  • process evaluation

BACKGROUND: Community Action Against Asthma (CAAA) is a community-based participatory research (CBPR) project that assesses the effects of outdoor and indoor air quality on exacerbation of asthma in children, and tests household- and neighborhood-level interventions to reduce exposure to environmental asthma triggers. Representatives of community-based organizations, academia, an integrated health system, and the local health department work in partnership on CAAA's Steering Committee (SC) to design and implement the project.

OBJECTIVE: To conduct a process evaluation of the CAAA community–academic partnership.

DESIGN: In-depth interviews containing open-ended questions were conducted with SC members. Analysis included established methods for qualitative data, including focused coding and constant comparison methods.

SETTING: Community setting in Detroit, Michigan.

PARTICIPANTS: Twenty-three members of the CAAA SC.

MEASUREMENTS: Common themes identified by SC members relating to the partnership's ability to achieve project goals and the successes and challenges facing the partnership itself.

MAIN RESULTS: Identified partnership accomplishments included: successful implementation of a complex project, identification of children with previously undiagnosed asthma, and diverse participation and community influence in SC decisions. Challenges included ensuring all partners' influence in decision-making, the need to adjust to “a different way of doing things” in CBPR, constraints and costs of doing CBPR felt by all partners, ongoing need for communication and maintaining trust, and balancing the needs of science and the community through intervention.

CONCLUSIONS: CBPR can enhance and facilitate basic research, but care must be given to trust issues, governance issues, organizational culture, and costs of participation for all organizations involved.