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Studying and Addressing Urban Immigrant Restaurant Worker Health and Safety in San Francisco’s Chinatown District: A CBPR Case Study

Abstract

With its emphasis on empowerment, individual and community capacity building, and translating research findings into action, community-based participatory research (CBPR) may be particularly advantageous in work with urban immigrant populations. This paper highlights eight ways in which CBPR has been shown to add value to work with urban underserved communities. It then describes the background, context, and methods of an ecological CBPR project, the Chinatown Restaurant Worker Health and Safety Study, conducted in San Francisco, California, and draws on study processes and outcomes to illustrate each of the eight areas identified. Challenges of using CBPR, particularly with urban immigrant populations, briefly are described, drawing again on the Chinatown study to provide illustrative examples. We discuss lessons learned, through this and other studies, for the effective use of CBPR with urban immigrant populations. We conclude that despite its challenges, this transdisciplinary, community-partnered and action-oriented approach to inquiry can make substantial contributions to both the processes and the outcomes of the research.

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Acknowledgments

This study was supported by a grant from the NIOSH and Health/Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC; R219081) and The California Endowment. The first author was further supported by the University of California Berkeley Fellowship and the Occupational Health Internship Program. The authors acknowledge the partners and participants of the Chinatown Restaurant Worker Health and Safety Project, and particularly worker partners Rong Wen Lan, Li Li Shuang, Li Zhen He, Hu Li Nong, Michelle Xiong, Zhu Bing Shu, Christy Wu, Huang Pei Yu, and Gan Lin. The authors are also grateful to their CPA, university, and health department partners Robin Baker, Rajiv Bhatia, Feiyi Chen, Niklas Krause, Alvaro Morales, and Alex Tom for contributions to the research and its implementation. The contents of this article are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the funding agencies. None of the authors have any financial interests or affiliations that may cause conflicts of interest. Portions of this paper were adapted from Minkler and Chang [3] with permission of the publisher.

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Correspondence to Charlotte Chang.

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Chang, C., Minkler, M., Salvatore, A.L. et al. Studying and Addressing Urban Immigrant Restaurant Worker Health and Safety in San Francisco’s Chinatown District: A CBPR Case Study. J Urban Health 90, 1026–1040 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11524-013-9804-0

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Keywords

  • Community-based participatory research
  • Urban immigrant worker health
  • Community capacity
  • Community partnerships
  • Transdisciplinary partnerships