Communication ETDs

Publication Date



This study addressed the lack of attention to trust in Community Based Participatory Research (CBPR) partnerships. CBPR is a promising research orientation to reduce health inequities in communities of color. This research orientation has been deemed an ethical and trust building approach to health research. However, this claim has not been empirically investigated. Specifically this investigation explored trust development as a process of ethical communication. Trust is important to all relationships and more attention to how trust develops is needed. In research relationships mistrust, which impacts CBPR, stems from historic events and institutional histories of collaboration. Trust and mistrust can be reinforced by researcher behavior and communication styles. Therefore, trust as a process required a reevaluation of the binary conceptualization; the choice to trust is influenced by many factors. For this reason, this project also proposed a trust typology to assist with the reconceptualization. This study utilized a parallel mixed-methods design. Findings from 63 individual interviews (QUAL) and a community engaged web-based survey (QUAN) of 450 community and academic partners are presented. Data triangulation revealed complementarity between the two methodological strands. This trust study was part of the larger Research for Improved Health Study, a collaborative endeavor between the National Congress of American Indians, University of New Mexico, and the University of Washington, funded by the Native American Research Centers for Health. Results provide a definition of trust that includes a sense of responsibility for the partnership, respect and safety, and shared goals and values. Results also provide support for the trusty typology to be used as a developmental model. Communication ethics, specifically listening, learning, participation and commitment were found to contribute to trust development. In addition, the concepts of time, funding, open communication, and partner turn over had an effect on trust development and change. These findings provide evidence to support and encourage partnership nurturing of the trust environment by attending to discursive space.This project advances the understanding of trust and an ethical construct as well as the impact of ethical communication on trust in CBPR partnerships.




Trust, community-academic partnerships, communication ethics

Document Type


Degree Name


Level of Degree


Department Name

Department of Communication and Journalism

First Advisor

Lutgen-Sandvik, Pamela

First Committee Member (Chair)

Scheutz, Jan

Second Committee Member

Oetzel, John

Third Committee Member

Wallerstein, Nina