PRAM Seminar, December 12, 2008

Guest: Margaret Cargo, PhD,
Senior Lecturer in Health Promotion,
School of Health Sciences, University of South Australia

Dr. Cargo is a co-investigator on PRAM's systematic review entitled: "Are There Benefits to Participatory Research? A Realist Review." Dr. Cargo will be leading a round table discussion on some of the design and methodological issues involved in conducting the type of review we are proposing. We encourage everyone to come and participate. We hope to have a frank discussion of the issues, learn from your experiences and illuminate the places where we think we might push forward this branch of synthesis.

Project Summary (abstract from research module):

Participatory Research (PR) is an approach to research that involves the active collaboration between researchers and those affected by the research throughout the research process. Its goal is to develop knowledge and achieve action in response to the concerns of all partners. PR is increasingly accepted and used in health research owing to its presumed benefits with regard to research process and outcomes for both researchers and partners. However, the current understanding of these benefits remains weak.

This systematic review will, therefore, explore the difficulties in conceptualizing the benefits of PR. Furthermore, it will examine actual PR projects in light of this conceptual work, tying benefits found to the values and frameworks with which the PR projects were conceived. As PR is recognized as important for integrating knowledge translation throughout research, the results of this study will also be very relevant to the area of Translational Research.

Our main objective is to re-conceptualize and identify the benefits of PR, answering these questions:

  1. How are the benefits of PR conceptualized?
  2. What are the characteristics and outcomes of health-related PR projects?
  3. Are there benefits to using PR?
  4. How have these benefits been assessed or measured?

This review will approached from a 'realist' perspective, that is, as a systematic review of all types of studies (quantitative, qualitative, and mixed methods) that includes an analysis of the context and processes of interventions or programs in relation to outcomes.

This study will itself be participatory, overseen by an advisory board made up of all decision-maker partners and researchers. Conceived end-users of results are federal and provincial funding agencies, community-based organisations, and others. Representatives of these stakeholder groups are therefore included among the decision-maker partners. This will help integrate knowledge translation throughout the course of the project.