Community-research collaboration between researchers and acupuncturists: Integrating a participatory research approach in a statewide survey of licensed acupuncturists in California
The Licensed Acupuncture Collaborative Study, a job analysis of licensed acupuncturists in California, provides a model for building community-research partnerships between university researchers and communities of non-physician clinicians. The study design used a project-management approach based on the core principles of community-based participatory research: 1) mobilizing shared expertise and resources to address issues of concern; 2) sharing power in the decision-making process; and 3) promoting mutual ownerships of resources and products derived from the collaboration. A project infrastructure involving the sharing of study responsibilities across university researchers, individual acupuncturists, and state community organizations was developed and cultivated over a three-year project period. Essential factors in the success of this project included shared objectives, addressing the concerns about collaboration among academic and community partners, inclusion of nontraditional viewpoints about healthcare policy, and participation by the acupuncturist community in performing the research. These activities helped to overcome mistrust and perceived power differences between researchers and the acupuncturist community.