Environmental public health research: Engaging communities

  • Bonham V
  • Nathan V
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Abstract

Environmental public health research is a multi-disciplinary and multi-institutional field of endeavor that is changing. New and innovative approaches are vital to researchers and communities. Partnerships and collaborations also are part of the equation. Thus, engaging communities is a necessary component for successful environmental public health research. The federal government has a fiduciary and a moral responsibility to provide ethical research in communities with the same integrity as required for individuals. There is an inherent distrust by many communities, especially minority communities, in light of past public health research failures. Communities targeted by public health researchers may be aware of the need to improve the community's environmental health and quality of life but are unsure of the methods and benefits. This in turn requires competent and attentive collaborations between the community and the researcher(s). Communities are indeed more astute to their physical surroundings, but may still not understand the nature and intent of the research process. Therefore, the collaboration and partnership should start as early in the design, planning, and execution of the project as possible. Future challenges in genetic screening and research will only increase the need for communities to be engaged in public health research.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Community-based research
  • Environmental health
  • Minority communities
  • Superfund community research

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Authors

  • V L Bonham

  • V R Nathan

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