Participatory action research work

On this page you will find links to stories, case studies, briefs, blogs, videos, text or photojournalism of PAR work, including facilitator reflections on their work in PAR. The resources are in various languages. The most recently published resources are shown first. Please send us your stories, reflections and resources, whether written or visual.

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Participatory Methods: People working together around the world to generate ideas and action for social change

Participation, Inclusion and Social Change Cluster at the Institute of Development Studies, Sussex University ,2021

This Participatory Methods website provides resources to generate ideas and action for inclusive development and social change. It explains what participatory methods are, where and how they are used, and their problems and potentials, focusing on participatory approaches to programme design, monitoring and evaluation; to learning, research and communication in organisations, networks and communities; and to citizen engagement in political processes. This site is regularly updated and offers access to many useful and thought-provoking resources.

Participatory Methods: People working together around the world to generate ideas and action for social change

Participation, Inclusion and Social Change Cluster at the Institute of Development Studies, Sussex University ,2020

This Participatory Methods website provides resources to generate ideas and action for inclusive development and social change. It explains what participatory methods are, where and how they are used, and their problems and potentials, focusing on participatory approaches to programme design, monitoring and evaluation; to learning, research and communication in organisations, networks and communities; and to citizen engagement in political processes. This site is regularly updated and offers access to many useful and thought-provoking resources.

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.

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.

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.

"Casi como una plaga" PAR en Cancer. Archipiélago de Chiloe. Chile

Ibakatxe Burgos J,2017

Video de investigación de terreno(PAR) donde se destacan tres testimonios de personas de comunidades insulares del Archipiélago de Chiloe respecto del Cancer. En Chiloe el cáncer es la segunda causa de fallecimientos y las personas lo asocian a cambio alimentación, emociones negativas y también a Mal por Envidia hecho por terceras personas. Esto es un desafío para profesionales de la salud que han llegado desde fuera del territorio.Video con el cual se hacen debates con autoridades de salud, equipos de salud y también con comunidad en la linea de la Epidemiología Sociocultural y Salud Cole

Building a movement for health

Bodini C (edited by), People's Health Movement and Third World Health Aid,2017

This book is an aid in the struggle for health equity, which is the struggle for liberation from hunger, poverty and unjust socioeconomic structures. It's a tool to support movement-building at the country level and contribute to the strengthening of a global movement for health. It can be used by people who want to know more about the struggle for health in the world and about the People's Health Movement, by activists who seek inspiration and want to learn from other's experience, by groups involved in PAR and capacity-building, by scholars who research on civil society engagement in health.

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.

Cómo se construye un movimiento para la salud

Bodini C (editado por), Movimiento para la Salud de los Pueblos y Medecina para el Tercer Mundo,2017

Este libro es una ayuda en la lucha por la salud, que es la lucha por la liberación del hambre, la pobreza y las estructuras socio-económicas injustas. Es una herramienta para construir movimientos a nivel país y mundial. Puede ser utilizado por personas que quieran saber más sobre la lucha por la salud en el mundo y el Movimiento para la Salud de los Pueblos, activistas que buscan inspiración de la experiencia de otras, grupos involucrados en la creación de capacidades y la investigación-acción participativa, académicas que investigan el compromiso de la sociedad civil con la salud.

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.

MANIFEST supplement and other materials

George A; Tetui M; Pariyo G; Peterson S, Global Health Action, 10:sup4, DOI: 10.1080/16549716.2017.1359924,2017

The MANIFEST project used PAR to implement a project to improve maternal and neonatal health outcomes in Uganda. Here we share different aspects of the project. MANIFEST supported community outreach in the form of community health worker (CHW) home visits, coupled with community awareness (dialogues, radio) and community capacity strengthening (community savings and transport initiatives) to ensure that, with community support, mothers and families felt empowered to seek timely care.

Poems - Infitun, Chloe, Chile

Ibacache J,2017

Persona de ascendencia indigena chono-williche en Archipiélago de Chiloe , con cuadro clínico poco claro para medicina occidental. Se inicia Investigacion-Acción-Participativa (PAR) para entender la percepcion del paciente y de su familia. Esto permite iniciar un "dialogo de saberes" entre medicina occidental y medicina tradicional que lleva a que paciente y familia estén mejor del Sindrome Poems, causado por Infitun o Mal por Envidia, según percepción familiar. Esto video permite la adherencia a ambos sistemas de salud. Camara. Luis Tapia y direccion. Jaime Ibakatxe Burgos

“Working on Empty” Ellen Rosskam, PhD, MPH — Contributing Researcher and Blog Writer

Ellen Rosskam, PhD, MPH,2017

“Working on Empty” (WOE) is a multimedia project on how the U.S. workplace is making Americans sick and what must change to protect the health of our workforce.

Power and glory: applying participatory action research in public health

Baum, F. Gaceta Sanitaria Volume 30, Issue 6, November–December 2016, Pages 405-407,2016

PAR holds great, and as yet largely unrealised promise, to create greater mobilisation and community interest and action on health inequities and action on the social determinants of health. The use of PAR in public health comes from various traditions and has been applied to a wide range of issues, using a wide range of methods. This paper explores these issues, as well as looking at the concept of power as a central issue for public health researchers to consider in seeking to redress inequities through action on social determinants of health.

Reflections on actions and learning from participatory work on health in Cassa Banana, Zimbabwe. TARSC, ZADHR, Cassa Banana Community Health Committee, EQUINET PRA Paper. Harare

Kaim, B,2016

This paper reflects on the successes and challenges faced by the Cassa Banana Community Health Committee in meeting this informal settlement's community health needs and in trying to strengthen relations with the Harare City Council and other stakeholders. It looks at issues of leadership, social cohesion and power as key components to the successful mobilisation of a diverse and fractured community. It ends by recommending possible actions, and comments on the extent to which the challenges faced in Cassa Banana can be generalised to other communities in Zimbabwe and the region.

The Contribution of Civil Society Organisations in Achieving Health for All - Report phase 1 Italy

GRUP-PA (Permanently Open Group); Chiara Bodini ,2016

This report narrates what happened during the first phase of the international action-research project “The Contribution of Civil Society Organisations in Achieving Health for All” (CSE4HFA) in Italy. It is the result of a collective work carried on by the Grup-pa, the Italian PHM circle that aimec to repoliticise the discourse on health, challenging the hegemonic biomedical perspective and proposing different approaches; to share, experiment and put into practice different ways to “make health” and to promote and sustain the process of building a movement for health in Italy.

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.

Using Participatory Process Evaluation to Understand the Dynamics of Change in a Nutrition Education Programme

Cornwall, A. IDS Working Paper 437, Institute of Development Studies,2014

Participatory visualisation methods associated with PAR have been widely used as tools for learning and accountability. In this article, Cornwall reflects on lessons learnt from using these methods in a participatory process evaluation of an educational programme aimed at addressing chronic malnutrition in an East African country. She explores the educative and empowering dimensions of participatory visualisation methods, and considers the contribution that these methods can make to effective evaluation.

Building empowered communities for health: A film on health literacy and participatory approaches to health in Zambia

TARSC; Lusaka District Health Management Team; Ministry of Health Zambia ,2013

This video describes the origins and development of work on health literacy in Lusaka using PAR approaches from the lens and through the voice of the many different actors involved: communities, health workers and policy levels. It tells the journey of introducing and implementing health literacy in Lusaka for communities to identify health problems, prioritise, plan and act upon them and change the mind-set of the both the community and the health system.

De fracaso y frustración en el trabajo de campo: cómo asumir la ética de la representación en la investigación participativa (Of failure and frustration in field work – how to assume the ethics of representation in participatory research)

Oslender U,2013

One of the lacunas of methodological engagement in PAR is how to address issues of fracaso, or failure, where the academic-activist him/herself has experienced deep disappointment or frustration in the way the research situation unfolded Otra carencia en los debates metodológicos se refiere a la falta de enfrentar abiertamente problemas de fracaso, decepción o frustración que el académico-activista pueda haber experimentado en el trabajo de campo. This paper critically examines this from the author's personal experience.

Participatory Methods

Institute of Development Studies,2013

An explosion of new methods, technologies, theories and approaches has taken place around the world, adding enormously to the range of available methods for participation. Increasingly sophisticated visual methods and tools for networking and data collection give us access to different forms of knowledge and political action. This website is a repository of examples from all over the world.

Participatory Research: What's in it for me? Video presentation

Fletcher A,2013

Alexander Fletcher gives a 3.30 minute introduction to the importance of participatory research in public health and also introduces us to the Participatory Research programme (PRAM) at McGill University

Who are we to care? Exploring the relationship between participation, knowledge and power in health systems

Kaim B,2013

The paper addresses the interaction between participation, knowledge and power in health systems.

Who are we to care? Exploring the relationship between participation, knowledge and power in health systems. TARSC, Zimbabwe, and COPASAH

Kaim, B,2013

This paper explores how the interaction between people’s participation, knowledge and power effects the functioning of health systems. It pays particular attention to the importance of building people centred health systems which give voice and agency to the poor and most vulnerable in communities. It explores the role PAR plays in this process. The paper concludes by asking a series of questions to provoke and deepen our thinking on ways we can overcome obstacles to building a more just and equitable health system , from community to global level as a strategy for change.

Video - Los messajes de madres - con hijos en situacion de calle - PAR with mothers of street children, Bolivia

Mensajesdemadres and Vrije Universiteit, Brussels,2012

This video was made during a participatory research process with mothers whose children currently live on the streets. The content is based on videotapes of mothers who gave messages to aid services. The mothers didn't want to appear in the video and so they used animations to get their messages across. The goal of the group was to show the messages to the Bolivian social services (governmental and non-governmental) and to invite them to engage with them. The encounter between mothers and social services finally took place in May 2013. Spanish with English subtitles, 7 mins

Evidence from Participatory Research on Community Health Systems for HIV treatment and support in east and southern Africa

Machingura F; Loewenson R; Chikaphupha K; Loforte A; Mallya T; Matengu K; Seleke L,2011

The report presented and discussed the findings from the PAR conducted in 12 sites in the six east and southern Africa countries between April 2010 and October 2011 on community and local health worker views and knowledge on community systems and services for responding to HIV and AIDS.

Raising the Profile of Participatory Action Research at the 2010 Global Symposium on Health Systems Research

Loewenson R; Flores W; Shukla A; Kagis M; Baba A; Ryklief A; Mbwili-Muleya C; Kakde D ,2011

This paper summarizes and analyzes discussions from two sessions on PAR convened by the authors at the First Global Symposium on Health Systems Research in Montreux Switzerland, November 16–19 2010. The discussions were centred on experiences using PAR approaches in HSR in Guatemala, India, East and Southern Africa and Canada and its relevance with a follow-up action to build a PAR learning network.

A Guide to the Literature on Participatory Research with Youth

Ollner A, The Assets Coming Together for Youth Project York University,2010

This practical tool contains summaries of articles on research that has engaged with youth as active participants. The articles were selected based on the level of participation of youth within the research process; articles describing research in which youth participation consisted of being interviewed were not included. Categories include: innovative arts-based methods; youth as co-researchers; empowerment; youth participation in evaluation of youth services; youth in communities; civic participation/social action; and critical perspectives on engaging youth in research.

Best practices in the reporting of participatory action research: Embracing both the forest and the trees

Smith L; Rosenzweig L; Schmidt M ,2010

The article presents best-practices suggestions for writing about PAR based on an analysis of PAR articles published between 2000 and 2008.

Critical reflections on social injustice and participatory action research: The case of the indigenous Ayta community in the Philippines

Estacioa E; Marks D ,2010

The paper reflects on the indigenous Ayta community in the Philippines on how best to address social injustice in their context. the outcome of the study reveled the various problems associated with the use of PAR during the research. It also reflects on the ethical implications of facilitating action research particularly on the health and welfare of those who were engaged. The results revealed various complexities that needs the attention of those in power to ensure the role of those who are socially disadvantaged.

Participatory action research approaches and methods

Gibson N,2010

This book offers a critical introduction to understanding and working with PAR in different social, spatial and institutional contexts in three parts. The first part explores the intellectual, ethical and pragmatic contexts of PAR; the development and diversity of approaches to PAR; perspectives on PAR as a form of power. Part two is a critical exploration of the politics, places and practices of PAR.. Part three reflects on how effective PAR is, including its products and processes, participatory learning, benefits and challenges, and working between research, action, activism and change.

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.

Reflections on doing participatory research in health: participation, method and power

Bourke L,2009

This paper reports and on the experience of facilitating three participatory research projects in southeast Australia and discusses the issues it raises on participation, method and power. The experience raised issues of negotiation, inclusion, quality of research, differing agendas and roles and the integrity of those involved. The paper discusses these issues and how decisions are made around them.

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.

Building and Maintaining Trust in a Community-Based Participatory Research Partnership

Christopher, S; Watts, V; McCormick, A; Young, S Am J Public Health. 2008 August; 98(8): 1398–1406.,2008

Although intervention research is vital to eliminating health disparities, many groups with health disparities have had negative research experiences, leading to an understandable distrust of researchers and the research process. CBPR approaches seek to reverse this pattern by building trust between community members and researchers. They raise strategies for building and maintaining trust from an American Indian CBPR project and focus on 2 levels of trust building and maintaining: (1) between university and community partners and (2) between the initial project team and the larger community

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.

La Investigación Acción Participativa (IAP) en los estudios de psicología política y de género. (PAR in political, psychological, and gender studies)

Obando-Salazar O,2006

El articulo se estructura en tres partes: un resumen sobre los fundamentos teóricos de la IA y su significado para el desarrollo de la propuesta latinoamericana de IAP, (1.1) con sus antecedentes teóricos, (1.2) paradigmáticos y (1.3) los criterios de validación. Segundo, una síntesis de aportes de algunos teóricos pioneros de las tendencias de la IA (2.1) americana, (2.2) alemana, (2.3) de la investigación feminista y (2.4) de la propuesta latinoamericana, la IAP. Tercero, una caracterización de la IAP como método de intervención, (3.1) con sus características, (3.2)

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.

Participatory action research: the Indian Family Stories Project.

Garwick A; Auger S ,2003

The article shared experiences and lessons learned from utilizing a participatory action approach in a series of five sub projects within the Indian Family Stories Project. The importance of community engagement, networking, contextualization of the activities, feedback and building a sustainable community resources were issues which were raised in the paper. The paper raised that community-based research projects are critically needed to reduce health disparities and ensure the delivery of health care services that are culturally appropriate and relevant to families and communities.

Through the Eyes of Women: Photovoice and participatory research as tools for reimagining place

MacIntyre, A; Gender, Place and Culture, Vol. 10, No. 1, pp. 47–66, 2003,2003

This article explores the relationship between place and identity in a feminist PAR project, looking at how working-class women living in Belfast, Northern Ireland, experience the place(s) in which they live. The perspective of place is mediated by the sociopolitical history of Northern Ireland, as well as by gendered, classed, and religious-mediated contexts. The research used photovoice as a tool for investigating people’s lives, leading to a photo-text exhibit that provided knowledge to local and international communities on how women (re)formulate their vision of place and identity.

Using participatory action research to build healthy communities

Minkler M ,2000

There paper highlighted the untapped potential use of PAR in the Healthy Cities movement in the US. The paper discussed the principles, definitions, and characteristics, parallels between par and healthy communities.

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.

Research for Social Justice: Some North-South Convergences, Plenary Address at the Southern Sociological Society Meeting, Atlanta, April 8, 1995

Fals-Borda O ,1995

The address focused on the social justice and the role social scientists play to achieve it, particularly in Colombia. PAR has helped in understanding conflictual social processes and re-channelling collective energies towards a better course of action for justice and equity. Four guidelines for field research and scientific reporting are outlined: filling in the distance between subject and object, applying narratives, not depending solely on own culture to interpret facts and not imposing own scientific style when communicating results.

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.