Participatory Action Research: Relevance and Use for Contemporary Nursing Research

Tuesday, 31 July 2012: 1:30 PM

Lorna Moxham, PhD, RN, MHN, MEd, BHSc, DAS (Nsg), GradCertOH&S, GradCertQualMgt, FCON, FACMH
school of Nursing, Midwifery and Indigenous Health, University of Wollongong, Wollongong, Australia

Learning Objective 1: Demonstrate a greater understanding of PAR and how this particular methodology is useful and relevant for translational research

Learning Objective 2: Appreciate the impact of PAR through a demonstration of it's use in a completed research project and how nursing practice was positively influenced

Purpose: This paper will demonstrate how, using a collaborative, inclusive research methodology,  positive impacts on clinical practice and enhanced client outcomes can be achieved. 

Methods: A Participatory Action Research (PAR) approach was used to address a clinical issue within a pediatric unit. The nursing staff who were general  trained recognized they did not have the clinical expertise to provide care for the increasing number of clients who were being admitted for mental health issues. This  caused them distress and meant the clients were also not receiving optimum treatment. Clinicians contacted some academic staff they knew and  together a research team  was formed to address the clinical issues.

Results: PAR enabled an intervention, based on real life clinical problems,  to be initiated. This approach provided staff education,  modified hospital policy, empowered pediatric nurses and reduced stigma for clients who have a mental illness. Clinicians indicated increased knowledge and confidence when   working with this group  of clients who they described as " challenging". This kind of applied research changed clinical practice within  a general hospital pediatric unit and did so using an evidence based approach. Outcomes also included multiple publications for clinicians who had never before written a peer reviewed journal article and a team consisting of clinicians and academics that continue to collaborate and work in partnership.  

Conclusion: Using a research project as an exemplar, Participatory Action Research is shown to be an appropriate research methodology to use if desired outcomes truly are translational to clinical practice.