Community-based participatory research: A vehicle to promote public engagement for environmental health in China

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Background: In the past 25 years, China has experienced remarkable economic growth and rapid agricultural-to-industrial and rural-to-urban transitions. As a consequence, China now faces many daunting environmental challenges that are significantly affecting human health and quality of life, including indoor and outdoor air pollution, water pollution, deforestation, loss of agricultural land, and sustainability. Chinese government leaders have recently emphasized the need for better environmental protection practices along with interventions involving strong public participation. Objectives: Community-based participatory research (CBPR) is a collaborative approach to research that involves community members, organizational representatives, and researchers as equal participants in all phases of the research process. Over the past 15 years, CBPR has gained recognition and acceptance and is now valued as a means to effect change and provide scientific knowledge relevant to human health and the environment. In this article we highlight the success of CBPR in the United States and suggest that it could be a useful model for addressing environmental health problems in the People's Republic of China. Discussion: CBPR can reduce the tension between science and society by promoting genuine communication, by enabling scientists and administrators to listen and respond to the public, by allowing communities to help shape the research agenda, and by increasing accountability of researchers and governments to the public. Conclusions: CBPR can potentially help improve environmental health in China, but it is likely to take a different form than it has in the West because the government will be leading the way.




Ali, R., Olden, K., & Xu, S. (2008). Community-based participatory research: A vehicle to promote public engagement for environmental health in China. Environmental Health Perspectives, 116(10), 1281–1284.

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