Participatory action research publications in journal papers and reports

On this page you will find links to published journal papers and reports on and about PAR. The most recently published resources are shown first. Please send us your reports and journal paper links. If they are published papers that have been reviewed and finalised but are but not online let us know in the form you send and we will contact you in case we are able to upload them and make them available online.

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Co-production of a pictorial recovery tool for people with psycho-social disability informed by a participatory action research approach—a qualitative study set in India

Mathias K; Pillai P; Gaitonde R; Shelly K; Jain S,2019

Set in Dehradun district, North India, this study aimed to describe first, the process of co-production of a visual tool to support recovery for people affected by psycho-social disability; second, the key outputs developed and third, critical reflection on the process and outputs. Findings underline the important contribution of an EBE group demonstrating their skills. This study generated knowledge flow from bottom-to-top and proposes that the grass-root experiences of participants in a disadvantaged environment are needed for meaningful social and health policy responses.

Elements for harnessing participatory action research to strengthen health managers’ capacity: a critical interpretative synthesis

Tetui M; Zulu JM; Hurtig A-K; Ekirapa-Kiracho E; Kiwanuka SN; Coe A-B,2018

This a review of the elements for harassing PAR to to strengthen health managers' capacity. A critical interpretive synthesis method was used to interrogate eight selected articles. These articles reported the use of PAR to strengthen health managers’ capacity. The findings demonstrated the intricate and complex relations between the elements, which further affirms the need for a systems thinking approach to tackling health systems challenges.

EQUINET Diss 117: Pathways to urban health equity: Report of multi-method research in east and southern Africa

Loewenson R; Masotya M; Harare and Lusaka youth; TARSC, CFHD, LDHO,2018

In 2016-2018, Training and Research Support Centre (TARSC) in the Regional Network for Equity in Health in East and Southern Africa (EQUINET) explored the social distribution of health in urban areas and the opportunities for and practices promoting urban health and well-being. It focused on youth 15-24 years of age as an important group for both current and future well-being. Over two years evidence was subjected to cycles of participatory review, discussion, validation and outreach by young people from diverse urban settings and socio-economic groups in Harare and Lusaka.

Participatory approaches to strengthening district health managers' capacity: Ugandan and global experiences

Tetui M ,2018

This a PhD thesis undertaken at Umea University in Sweden. The thesis details participatory approaches of strengthening district health managers capacity.

Photovoice and empowerment: evaluating the transformative potential of a participatory action research project

Budig K; Diez J; Conde P; et al: BMC Public Health 18(432), doi:,2018

This study explored the individual experiences of the female individuals who participated in a previous Photovoice project in a low-income area of Madrid, Spain in 2016. Positive changes were found in the three dimensions: 1) participants acquired new knowledge and critical awareness; 2) the social recognition participants received transformed their self-perception; and 3) the project allowed them to expand their social networks and to build new links with different actors.

A participatory action research approach to strengthening health managers’ capacity at district level in Eastern Uganda

Tetui M; Coe A-B; Hurtig A-K; Bennett S;. Kiwanuka SN; George A; Ekirapa-Kiracho E,2017

This an original research publication about the use of PAR to strengthen Health managers capacity in Uganda. This was a qualitative study that used open-ended key informant interviews, combined with review of meeting minutes. The findings indicate that the participatory action research approach enhanced health managers’ capacity to collaborate with others, be creative, attain goals and review progress. The participatory approach to implementation created opportunities to strengthen health managers’ capacity.

Community-based participatory research in a heavily researched inner city neighbourhood: perspectives of people who use drugs on their experiences as peer researchers

Damon W, Callon C, Wiebe L, Small W, Kerr T, McNeil R,2017

Community based participatory research (CBPR) has become an increasingly common approach to research. The study, conducted in Vancouver, employed a CBPR approach in its study design, recruitment, interviewing, and analysis. CBPR can empower communities to contest forms of social stigma that are often reproduced through academic research on marginalized communities. findings describe how the benefits of CBPR are maximized when CBPR principles are consistently applied and when community based researchers are supported in ways that reduce hierarchies of power. Capacity building is needed.

Experiences of using a participatory action research approach to strengthen district local capacity in Eastern Uganda

Tetui M; Coe AB; Hurtig AK; Ekirapa EK; Kiwanuka SN,2017

The paper describes how local stakeholders and researchers used of PAR to strengthen local district level capacity to implement and sustain an intervention. The study was undertaken in three rural districts in Eastern Uganda as part of a larger project which aimed at improving maternal and neonatal health outcomes using a more sustainable approach.

Initiating a participatory action research process in the Agincourt health and socio–demographic surveillance site

O Wariri, L D'Ambruoso, R Twine, S Ngobeni, M van der Merwe, B Spies, K Kahn, S Tollman, RG Wagner, P Byass,2017

This work reported on initiating a participatory action research (PAR) process in the Agincourt Health and Socio-Demographic Surveillance Site (HDSS) in Mpumalanga province, rural northeast South Africa. The researchers initiated a PAR process to gain local knowledge and prioritize actions. The process was acceptable to those involved, and there was willingness and commitment to continue. The study provided a basis from which to gain support to develop fuller forms of participatory research in this setting. The next steps are to build deeper involvement of participants in the process.

Introducing visual participatory methods to develop local knowledge on HIV in rural South Africa

Brooks C; D’Ambruoso L; Kazimierczak K; Ngobeni S; Twine R; Tollman S; Kahn K; Byass P,2017

This study aimed to gain insights into the perspectives of rural communities in South Africa on HIV-related mortality. A participatory action research (PAR) process was used, including photovoice, to elicit and organise local knowledge on HIV/AIDS-related mortality and to identify priorities for action. The study concluded that initiating PAR inclusive of visual methods can build shared understandings of disease burdens in social and health systems contexts.

Champions for social change: Photovoice ethics in practice and ‘false hopes’ for policy and social change

Johnston G: Global public health, 11 (5–6), 799–811,2016

This article is part of a special issue on Visual Methodologies. It examines the concerns of raising false hopes or unrealistic expectations among the participants of photovoice projects as they are positioned to be champions for social change in their communities. The paper poses a series of unanswered questions about the ethics of photovoice projects. The ethical concern centres on the focus of policy change as a key initiative; yet, most projects remain vague about the implementation and outcomes of this focus.

Participatory Action Research (PAR) and the Colombian Peasant Reserve Zones: The Legacy of Orlando Fals Borda

Gutiérrez, J. Policy and Practice: A Development Education Review Issue 22 2016,2016

Fals Borda was a Colombian intellectual in the 1970s who became well known for helping give shape to the PAR approach in social sciences. While Colombia has become a conservative country and a staunch defender of the neoliberal creed, the peasantry has become the main actor of an important process of transformation, a central element of which are the Peasant Reserve Zones (ZRC). In the process of researching to implement these, researchers working with the agrarian unions and communities have come to use participatory methodologies which demonstrate the contemporary relevance of PAR.

Power and Glory: applying participatory action research in public health

Baum F: Gaceta Sanitaria 30(6) 405–407,2016

This article describes how PAR has been applied to public health, including in community asset mapping, participatory evaluation of public health programs, community monitoring of health service quality, research documenting and advocating to remove threats to health including poor water and sanitation and environmental pollution and participatory health policy research. A systematic review indicated most health service PAR has been conducted in low and middle income countries. The author observes that PAR holds great, and as yet largely unrealised promise, to support action on public health.

Investigación-Acción Participativa En Sistemas De Salud: Una Guía De Métodos

Loewenson R; Laurell AC; Hogstedt C; D’Ambruoso L; Shroff Z,2015

Esta Guía de metodos promueve la comprensión del término ‘investigación-acción participativa’ (IAP) y ofrece información sobre sus paradigmas, métodos y usos, particularmente en el ámbito de políticas y sistemas de salud. La Guía recoge experiencias y trabajos publicados de todas las regiones del mundo y explica: las caracaterísticas claves de la IAP así como la historia y los paradigmas de conocimiento que la informan; los procesos y métodos utilizados en la IAP, y asuntos de comunicación, informes, institucionalización y usos de la investigación-acción en política y sistema de salud.

Participatory action research in health systems: a methods reader

Loewenson R; Laurell AC; Hogstedt C; D’Ambruoso L; Shroff Z,2014

The result of team work, this reader draws on experience and published work from all regions globally and explains: • key features of participatory action research and the history and knowledge paradigms that inform it; • processes and methods used in participatory action research, including innovations and developments in the field and the ethical and methods issues in implementing it; and • communication, reporting, institutionalization and use of participatory action research in health systems.

Participatory Action Research: New Uses, New Contexts, New Challenges

Amaya, A.A; Yeates, N. Poverty Reduction and Regional Integration (PRARI) Working Paper 15-6,2014

This paper reviews why PAR is relevant for research uptake and impact agendas, and considers its opportunities, tensions, dilemmas and limits in impact contexts internationally, including where these involve ‘non-standard’ PAR populations. Participatory research raises a number of challenges -- professional, political, logistical. In addition, how PAR is applied in practice and the context of that practice bear significantly on the quality and nature of the research outcomes. The relationship between PAR and policy change as a research topic in its own right is also explored.

Women's groups practising participatory learning and action to improve maternal and newborn health in low-resource settings: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Prost A; Colbourn T; Seward N; et al.,2013

Different approaches for the improvement of birth outcomes have been used in community-based interventions, with heterogeneous effects on survival. The authors assessed the effects of women's groups practising participatory learning and action, compared with usual care, on birth outcomes in low-resource settings. With the participation of at least a third of pregnant women and adequate population coverage, women's groups practising participatory learning and action are a cost-effective strategy to improve maternal and neonatal survival in low-resource settings.

Community Health Workers Support Community-based Participatory Research Ethics: Lessons Learned along the Research-to-Practice-to-Community Continuum

Smith S; Blumenthal D ,2012

This article examines experiences and lessons learned from involving community health workers in research enabling the the community to gain some degree of control over the research intervention and operationalizing ethical principles in community based participatory research.

De la invisibilidad de la situación de las policlínicascomunitarias-ruralesen Uruguay, a la priorización de la salud rural comopolíticapública (From the invisibility of the situation of rural and community health services in Uruguay towards the prioritiza

Borgia F; Gularte A; Gabrielzyk I; Azambuja M; Soto J; Corneo M; Giménez H; Arraras M; González S ,2012

The paper justifies the progressive implementation incorporating providers of rural and community health services to generate action-proposals, for integration into the development of Comprehensive Primary Health Care through the use of Participatory-Action-Research and to contributed public policy.

Understanding participatory action research: A qualitative research methodology option

MacDonald, C Canadian Journal of Action Research Volume 13, Issue 2, 2012,2012

This paper contextualizes PAR in terms of its history, principles, definitions, and strengths, as well as discuss challenges and practical suggestions for using PAR. In addition, it examines focus groups and interviews as methods for data collection, the role of PAR in education, and the types of research for which PAR is best suited.

‘Everyone is doing something and calling it PRA’ A Critical Reflection on Participatory Methods in Development

Parduhn, D. School of Global Studies, University of Sussex ,2011

The present paper argues that implementing participatory methods which go beyond consultation involves a wide range of difficulties. Even very careful implementation, which demands a range of skills and critical awareness of the identified problems, can not eliminate all of the issues raised. On the contrary, the mainstreaming of participation has in many instances counteracted its underlying ideals. However, cases of bad practice should not justify writing off the entire approach.

A Contribuição da Pesquisa Avaliação para o Processo de Implementação do Controle Social no SUS

Batista A; Muñiz J; Ferreira J; Mitre Cotta R,2010

Este artigo foi desenvolvido com base nos resultados da aplicação dos pressupostos teóricos da pesquisa de avaliação, no processo de implementação de uma política na saúde no município de Ponte Nova, Minas Gerais, Brazil. Para isso, contextualizaram-se as políticas aplicadas ao campo da saúde pública a partir da década de 1970, por meio de dois eixos complementares: a Constituição Federal de 1988 e as Leis Orgânicas da Saúde 8.080 e 8.142 de 1990, que criaram e regulamentaram o Sistema Único de Saúde (SUS). Essa análise revelou as formas de participação dos conselheiros nas reuniões.

A framework for entry: PAR values and engagement strategies in community research

Ochocka J; Moorlag E; Janzen R, Gateways: International Journal of Community Research and Engagement (3),2010

This article explores the entry process in community-based research and suggest a framework for entry that utilises the values of PAR, drawing on research in Canada from 2005–2010. The article emphasises that the indicator of success is a well-established and trusted community-researcher relationship. This article first examines this broader understanding of entry, then looks at how community research entry can be shaped by an illustrative framework, or guide, that uses a combination of participatory action research (PAR) values and engagement strategies.

Participatory action research: Addressing social vulnerability of rural women through income-generating activities

van Niekerk, L and van Niekerk, D; Journal of Disaster Risk Studies, Vol. 2, No.2, November 2009,2009

This article focuses on PAR as a strategy to understand social vulnerability within the context of women as rural farm dwellers in the North-West Province, South Africa. It emphasises the need for continued participation and the practical principles/benefits derived from PAR. The PAR process cycles are discussed. The article emphasises that the application of the PAR process can make a contribution towards the development of a community by creating an understanding of social vulnerability, by building capacity and by ensuring participation. It also addresses income-generating activities.

Stressed and Fatigued on the Ground and in the Sky: Changes from 2000 – 2007 in civil aviation workers’ conditions of work; A global study of 116 countries in Africa, Asia/Pacific, Middle East, North America, Latin/South America, and Europe in the post-9/

Rosskam E; Greiner B; Mateski M; McCarthy V; Siegrist J; Smith S; Wege N; Zsoldos L,2009

This report describes what happened to civil aviation workers around the world between 2000 and 2007.The study examined the changes that took place globally between those years. The year 2000 was used as a baseline in order to give an idea of conditions before 9/11. The findings of this investigation reveal a disturbing picture of a steady decline in conditions faced by civil aviation workers in all three occupational groups, in all regions, between 2000 and 2007. Overally the conditions of labour need to be improved, and improved significantly, both for workers and for public safety.

Assessing Social Change Through Participatory Action Research: The Case of Kasighau Small-Scale Miners, Kenya

Mwasaru M,2007

This case study describes the author’s experience with the use of PAR using a ‘resistance paradigm’. The primary actors in the PAR process were the small-scale miners association and the Kasighau community. in Kenya concerning their rights in a protracted struggle for control of and access to minerals in their own ancestral lands. An emerging boldness and bravery in the small-scale miners could be directly linked to the PAR process and as a reflection of the continued opening up of political space in Kenyan society.

Participatory rural appraisal techniques in disenfranchised communities: a Kenyan case study

Maalim AD,2006

A participatory appraisal was implemented on the health needs and services for a disenfranchised, nomadic Somali community of north-eastern Kenya. The evidence included the Somali community's perception of the healthcare services and how they could be improved to suit their nomadic lifestyle. Various participatory methods were used to see how services could better align to this community's lives, including seasonal calendars on the movements of the nomadic people.

Tyranny/Transformation: Power and Paradox in Participatory Development

Christens, B & Speer, PW. Forum Qualitative Research, Volume 7, No. 2, Art. 22 – March 2006,2006

Two works on participatory development provide perspectives on values and process in development. The first book, 'Participation: The New Tyranny' challenges the pervasive belief that participation is unequivocally good. The second, 'Participation: From Tyranny to Transformation' attempts to theorize a more coherent and potentially transformative participatory development. This essay reviews these two contributions and proposes that a more thoroughly pragmatic orientation might advance the interests of a transformative participation.

Participatory research and participation in research: a look between times and spaces from Latin America

Rodrigues Brandão, C International Journal of Action Research, 1(1), 43-68.,2005

The “Latin American tradition” of participatory research based on the pioneering experience of Orlando Fals Borda and Paulo Freire can only be understood in its origins, going back to the social and political contexts of the time when it was instituted in Latin America, between the 1970s and 1980s.. This approach possesses specific characteristics, beginning with its historical connection to the popular social movements and their emancipatory social transformation projects. A few principles of convergence between different styles and traditions of PAR are presented and discussed.

Participatory action research as a strategy for empowering Aboriginal health workers

Hecker, R. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health 1997; 21: 784-7,1997

A participatory action research project was undertaken with Aboriginal health workers in South Australia. The study examined the factors that affect the empowerment of Aboriginal health workers within the context of an Aboriginal-controlled primary health care service. Findings showed that the three main factors preventing Aboriginal health workers from attaining a key role within the health service are the standard of training they receive, their low literacy and numeracy levels, and their lack of participation in decision making within the health service.

Participatory research on workers' health

Laurell AC, Noriega M, Martínez S, Villegas J ,1992

This paper presents action oriented participatory research using a collective questionnaire on characteristics of the labour process, risks and health damage for workers in a steel factory in Mexico. It was implemented by research institutions and trade unions. The paper presents a comparison between the information found on risks, health damage and the risks-health damage relationship found with the collective questionnaire and the findings from use of an individual questionnaire applied at the same steel factory. The results from the two methods were very similar.

Review of Action and Knowledge: Breaking the Monopoly with Participatory Action Research Orlando Fals-Borda and Mohammad Anisur Rahman (Eds.) 1991. New York: Apex Press

Pyrch, T Canadian Journal for the Study of Adult Education, 5(2), 66-71.,1991

This article reviews one of the most seminal books in the history of PAR and a major contributor to the liberatory tradition in adult education. Written by Orlando Fals-Borda, a Colombian scholar and activist who worked mainly in Latin America, and Mohammad Anisur Rahman from Bangladesh. The book contains six vivencias or process studies of PAR in the Americas, Asia and Africa contributed by long time practitioners in those continents. This is a gold mine of theory and practice. The review summarises the book by chapter, giving brief summaries and case studies.

PLA Notes - archives 1988 to present

International Institute of Environment and Development (IIED) and Institute of Development Studies (IDS), Sussex University

PLA Notes started in 1988, published about twice a year so that there are now 66 issues, all archived here by IIED. The publications challenge existing orthodoxies about the role of local people in the ownership and dissemination of ideas. and have become part of a political and social movement for transformational change across the development world. Each issue shares tips and tools, and also publishes articles on participatory processes and methods that strengthen rights, voices and governance, and promotes social justice in a range of different thematic contexts.