Measuring developmental outcomes of lead exposure in an urban neighborhood: The challenges of community-based research

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11 Scopus citations

Abstract

The Developmental Research on Attention and Memory Skills (DREAMS) Project measures developmental outcomes of approximately 330 children at risk for lead exposure within an ethnically diverse, inner-city neighborhood. This study is one project of the Phillips Neighborhood Healthy Housing Collaborative, a 6-year-old collaboration between residents of the Phillips community in Minneapolis, university researchers, and representatives of various public and private agencies. Our experience carrying out this research is used to highlight both the benefits of, and the challenges to, measuring exposure outcomes in inner-city children using a community-based research approach. Challenges to working within a community collaborative, to studying an ethnically diverse and economically disadvantaged neighborhood, and to utilizing neighborhood residents as project staff are discussed. The strategies used to address these issues are presented to offer ideas for surmounting the challenges inherent in community-based research. The investigation of community environmental health problems through a community-based research approach can result in improved methodology, enhanced quality of data collected, and increased effectiveness of data dissemination. In addition, it can lead to important findings that inform the scientific community and create positive community changes. It is paramount, however, that potential obstacles be anticipated and planned for, or else be detected early and promptly responded to, in a manner that preserves scientific rigor while respecting community needs and values.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)732-742
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Exposure Analysis and Environmental Epidemiology
Volume10
Issue number6 II SUPPL.
DOIs
StatePublished - 2000

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Special thanks to the families of the Phillips community who care so deeply about the futures of their children and generously gave their time, sometimes for several years, in support of the data-collection phase of this project. The University of Minnesota investigators participating in this project will forever do our work differently thanks to the thoughtful and tenacious teachings and leadership of the current resident members of the Phillips Neighborhood HealthyHousingCollaborative (PNHHC):JamesBigBear, Wendy Boppert, Kay and Rene' Cabrera, Jody Deloria, Susan Gust, Beth Hart, Mary Johnson, Michelle Nickaboine, Nicole Diaz Romero, and Sheila Shavers, as well as past members: Erin Bluejacket, Lilly Bresina, Rep. Karen Clark, Marc Flores, Teresa Ford, Star Grigsby, Gwendolyn Hill, Mary Ellen Kaluza, Leah La Chapelle, Donna Morgan, Mary Parkhurst, Cathy Strobel, Deb Terwillger, Deb Whitefeather, and Cathy Winter. We also express our tremendous gratitude to the community staff members, many of whom also served on the PNHHC, for their excellent work and dedication to the research. The work of the PNHHC and its contributions to the research could not have been accomplished without the tireless efforts of its staff over the years: Carol Flavin, Kim Kelker, Ed Petsche, and Kim Rowe. The DREAMS Project is supported by grant MCJ - 270302 from the Maternal and Child Health Bureau.

Keywords

  • Child development
  • Community-based research
  • Lead

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