The Value and Challenges of Participatory Research: Strengthening Its Practice

Department of Psychiatry and Douglas Mental Health University Institute, McGill University, Verdun, Quebec, Canada.
Annual Review of Public Health (Impact Factor: 6.47). 02/2008; 29(1):325-50. DOI: 10.1146/annurev.publhealth.29.091307.083824
Source: PubMed


The increasing use of participatory research (PR) approaches to address pressing public health issues reflects PR's potential for bridging gaps between research and practice, addressing social and environmental justice and enabling people to gain control over determinants of their health. Our critical review of the PR literature culminates in the development of an integrative practice framework that features five essential domains and provides a structured process for developing and maintaining PR partnerships, designing and implementing PR efforts, and evaluating the intermediate and long-term outcomes of descriptive, etiological, and intervention PR studies. We review the empirical and nonempirical literature in the context of this practice framework to distill the key challenges and added value of PR. Advances to the practice of PR over the next decade will require establishing the effectiveness of PR in achieving health outcomes and linking PR practices, processes, and core elements to health outcomes.


Available from: Margaret Cargo
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    • "Engaged Scholar Journal: Community-Engaged Research, Teaching and Learning in BD research. In each project, the interpretation of research outcomes was enriched by the integration of different perspectives, as was dissemination (Cargo & Mercer, 2008). From a process perspective, CBPR naturally facilitates KE because research is conducted within the community in which knowledge will be applied (McGrath, Lingley-Pottie, Emberly, Thurston & McLean, 2009). "
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    ABSTRACT: The Collaborative RESearch Team to study psychosocial factors in bipolar disorder (CREST.BD) is a multidisciplinary network dedicated to advancing science and practice around psychosocial issues associated with bipolar disorder (BD), improving the care and wellness of people living with bipolar disorder, and strengthening services and supports for these individuals. CREST.BD specializes in community-based participatory research, in which research is conducted as a partnership between researchers and community members. This article describes the evolution of the CREST.BD network and CREST.BD’s commitment to community-based participatory research in bipolar disorder research. Examples of CREST.BD projects using community-based participatory research to study stigma, quality of life, psychosocial interventions, and creativity in bipolar disorder are highlighted, and opportunities and challenges of engaging in community-based participatory research in bipolar disorder specifically and the mental health field more broadly are discussed. This article demonstrates how CBPR can be used to enhance the relevance of research practices and products through community engagement, and how community-based participatory research can enrich knowledge exchange and mobilization.
    04/2015; 1(1):132-146. DOI:10.15402/esj.2015.1.A08
    • "In working together, authentic participation and consensual decision-making are facilitated by using the following strategies: deliberative interactions, open dialogue, listening and learning together; attention to language and power differentials; and reflexivity and flexibility (Cargo and Mercer 2008; AHRQ 2004). Group coordination has also involved attending carefully to communications prior to, during and following workshops as well as adapting to individual members' circumstances, concerns and constraints. "
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    ABSTRACT: The knowledge translation movement in health has led to the production of vast amounts of knowledge tools aimed at broadening clinicians’ evidence base and improving the quality and efficacy of their practices. However important, these tools, largely oriented towards biomedical and technological aspects of care, are of limited potential for addressing the complex interactions between patients’ socio-economic contexts and their health. Yet health professionals frequently lack the sensitivity, knowledge and ability to incorporate approaches to poverty within their practices; this is partly due to their limited understanding of the lived experience of poverty and of the complexity of barriers underprivileged people face to achieve and maintain health. In a context of persisting social inequalities in oral health, the Montreal-based Listening to Others multi-stakeholder partnership has been engaged in developing health professional education on poverty since 2006. In this article, we describe and reflect on how service users representing the Québec antipoverty coalition, academics from University of Montreal and McGill University, representatives of Québec dental regulatory bodies and artists collaborated to produce an educational film on poverty. Project partners’ specific contributions to the film script are highlighted, emphasizing their potential to enrich the health professional educator’s practice knowledge base. In doing so, this article provides an explicit and concrete example of how participatory processes can support co-learning and knowledge co-production through engagement with the arts. The overall aim is to demonstrate how participatory research can enhance knowledge translation by producing educational tools that promote critical reflection and address complexity.
    Educational Action Research 04/2015; 23(2). DOI:10.1080/09650792.2014.980286
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    • "requiring formation of teams of researchers in partnerships with those affected by the issue under study in the community [3] [4] [5] and those who will utilize the results to effect change [6] [7]. Overall, the literature suggests that the PR partnership approach increases the relevance of research questions [3] [5] [8], with the potential for effective knowledge translation [9] [10], leading to faster uptake of evidence into practice [11]. For these reasons research granting agencies, including the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI), and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), are increasingly requiring that researchers partner with community members, Figure 1 patients, health professionals, health organisations, and policy makers, resulting in many more researchers adopting a participatory approach. "
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    ABSTRACT: Objectives: To undertake a critical review describing key strategies supporting development of participatory research (PR) teams to engage partners for creation and translation of action-oriented knowledge. Methods: Sources are four leading PR practitioners identified via bibliometric analysis. Authors' publications were identified in January 1995-October 2009 in PubMed, Embase, ISI Web of Science and CAB databases, and books. Works were limited to those with a process description describing a research project and practitioners were first, second, third, or last author. Results: Adapting and applying the "Reliability Tested Guidelines for Assessing Participatory Research Projects" to retained records identified five key strategies: developing advisory committees of researchers and intended research users; developing research agreements; using formal and informal group facilitation techniques; hiring co-researchers/partners from community; and ensuring frequent communication. Other less frequently mentioned strategies were also identified. Conclusion: This review is the first time these guidelines were used to identify key strategies supporting PR projects. They proved effective at identifying and evaluating engagement strategies as reported by completed research projects. Adapting these guidelines identified gaps where the tool was unable to assess fundamental PR elements of power dynamics, equity of resources, and member turnover. Our resulting template serves as a new tool to measure partnerships.
    Journal of Environmental and Public Health 03/2015; 2015. DOI:10.1155/2015/191856
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