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Table 2 Definitions of seven levels of community participation in the four phases of research project development [51,52,53].

From: What can primary care services do to help First Nations people with unhealthy alcohol use? A systematic review: Australia, New Zealand, USA and Canada

Seven levels of community participation Four stages of project development
Diagnosis Development Implementation Evaluation
1. No participation Completely top-down, community is not informed about or asked about issues in their community Top-down, community is not informed about the development of the project Top-down, community is not informed about the implementation of the project, only about activities they’re involved in Top-down, community receives no information about evaluation
2. Passive participation Outsiders decide on the issues that need to be addressed, community is informed Outsiders control development, community is informed, but has no input Outsiders control the implementation, community is informed, but has no input Outsiders control the evaluation, community is informed, but has no input
3. Participation by information Outsiders have control, community participates by providing information about their community. No feedback to the community and no checking for agreements Outsiders have control over development, community potentially provides information about what they want, but outsiders don’t necessarily respond to this Outsiders control implementation, community might provide information useful for implementation, but outsiders don’t necessarily listen to this Outsiders control evaluation, community provides information through surveys and/or interviews, focus groups. Findings are not shared or checked for accuracy
4. Participation by consultation Outsiders define problems and consult with community about their agreement, using outsider defined processes Outsiders consult with community about potential projects to develop, but outsiders make final decision Community participates in activities decided upon by the outsiders Outsiders define evaluation process, community provides information and might make suggestions for improvement and feedback provided
5. Functional participation Outsiders have predetermined goals and community assists in defining issues within those goals, outsiders make final decisions Community works together with outsiders to develop projects decided upon by the outsiders. Community and outsiders work towards implementation of projects, based on outsiders’ goals and processes Community and outsiders work together in evaluation, based on goals as set by the outsiders
6. Interactive participation Outsiders and community work together to identify the issues in the community and set goals for the project Outsiders and community work together to develop suitable projects to address the agreed upon goals. Community and outsiders implement the developed projects together, community has control and uses local resource Evaluation methods are decided upon together and conducted in partnership
7. Self-mobilisation Completely bottom-up, community identifies their own issues and sets their own goals, might contact outsiders to assist them where needed Bottom-up, community makes decisions about project development, apply for funding and potentially contact outsiders where needed Community implements projects, contacts outsiders for resources where needed, but remains in control over resources Community conducts evaluations, potentially contacts outsiders for assistance, but stays in control over evaluation