Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2019 Sep 9;16(18):3310. doi: 10.3390/ijerph16183310.
Extreme summertime heat is a significant public health threat that disproportionately impacts vulnerable urban populations. Research on health impacts of climate change (including increasing intensity, duration, and frequency of hot weather) is sometimes designed and implemented without the involvement of the communities being studied, i.e., “community-placed” not “community-based.” We describe how the Heatwaves, Housing, and Health: Increasing Climate Resiliency in Detroit (HHH) partnership engaged relevant communities by integrating a community-based participatory research (CBPR) approach into an existing, academic-designed research project through a steering committee of community and academic partners. Using a case study approach, we analyze program documentation, partnership evaluation questionnaires, and HHH steering committee meeting notes. We describe the CBPR process by which we successfully collected research data in Detroit during summer 2016, engaged in collaborative analysis of data, and shared results with Detroit residents. Evaluations of the partnership over 2 years show community involvement in research; enhanced capacities; success in securing new grant funding; and ways that CBPR strengthened the validity, relevance, and translation of research. Engaging communities as equal partners using CBPR, even after a study is underway, can strengthen research to understand and address the impacts of extreme heat on health and equity in urban communities.