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Title: Two communities, one highway and the fight for clean air: the role of political history in shaping community engagement and environmental health research translation.

Authors: Sprague Martinez, Linda; Dimitri, Noelle; Ron, Sharon; Hudda, Neelakshi; Zamore, Wig; Lowe, Lydia; Echevarria, Ben; Durant, John L; Brugge, Doug; Reisner, Ellin

Published In BMC Public Health, (2020 Nov 11)

Abstract: BACKGROUND: This paper explores strategies to engage community stakeholders in efforts to address the effects of traffic-related air pollution (TRAP). Communities of color and low-income communities are disproportionately impacted by environmental threats including emissions generated by major roadways. METHODS: Qualitative instrumental case study design was employed to examine how community-level factors in two Massachusetts communities, the City of Somerville and Boston's Chinatown neighborhood, influence the translation of research into practice to address TRAP exposure. Guided by the Interactive Systems Framework (ISF), we drew on three data sources: key informant interviews, observations and document reviews. Thematic analysis was used. RESULTS: Findings indicate political history plays a significant role in shaping community action. In Somerville, community organizers worked with city and state officials, and embraced community development strategies to engage residents. In contrast, Chinatown community activists focused on immediate resident concerns including housing and resident displacement resulting in more opposition to local municipal leadership. CONCLUSIONS: The ISF was helpful in informing the team's thinking related to systems and structures needed to translate research to practice. However, although municipal stakeholders are increasingly sympathetic to and aware of the health impacts of TRAP, there was not a local legislative or regulatory precedent on how to move some of the proposed TRAP-related policies into practice. As such, we found that pairing the ISF with a community organizing framework may serve as a useful approach for examining the dynamic relationship between science, community engagement and environmental research translation. Social workers and public health professionals can advance TRAP exposure mitigation by exploring the political and social context of communities and working to bridge research and community action.

PubMed ID: 33176742 Exiting the NIEHS site

MeSH Terms: No MeSH terms associated with this publication

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