Participatory action research and health promotion : the grandmothers' story
This inquiry is a case study of the utility and appropriateness of participatory action research both as a research methodology and as an intervention for health promotion. In the study, I examined the effects of participating in a health promotion project, one aspect of which was a participatory health assessment. I also described in detail the experience of using participatory action research to conduct the health assessment. The study was carried out over 2.5 years in a health promotion project for older, urban, Aboriginal women (hereafter known as the grandmothers) sponsored by the local community clinic. The overall purpose of that project was to examine the health needs of those women and respond through health promoting programming. The grandmothers were the central participants in the study. Participation in the project and health assessment contributed to a number of changes in them which I have categorized as: personal cleansing and healing; connecting with self; acquiring knowledge and skills; connecting within the group; and external exposure and engagement. "Participation" was identified as the central influence on the outcomes, "action" as a theme interwoven throughout, and "opportunity", "encouragement", and "mediation" as key characteristics of the project and research environment. This experience of using participatory action research demonstrated its success as an approach to conducting a health assessment which was acceptable to this group of people and congruent with the health promotion project in which it was embedded. The analysis of the experience highlights both tensions and accomplishments. The findings of the health assessment are published in a separate document.