Participatory research methods are part of a methodological approach often referred to as Participatory Research and Action (PRA). Loewenson and colleagues (2014) in their manual describing participatory research and action (PRA) identify two central features of PRA:

1. It inverts the role of the researcher and the researched, by involving participants as active researchers and agents of change. Participants are the primary source of information and the primary actors in generating, validating and using the knowledge gained for action. The researcher is also part of the affected community, and a facilitator of the empowering processes in the affected community.

2. It involves developing, implementing, and reflecting on actions as part of the research and knowledge generation process. Participatory action research seeks to understand and improve the world by changing it, but does so in a manner that those affected by problems collectively act and produce change as a means to new knowledge.

In this session users should be able to:

• Understand the theory relating to PRA
• Identify a range of Participatory Research and Action (PRA) techniques and some potential applications to health-related research

You can download the powerpoint here and some further key resources here.

Recommended reading:

Chambers, R (2007) ‘From PRA to PLA and Pluralism: Practice and Theory’ IDS Working Paper 40: Brighton

Loewenson, Rene, et al (2014) ‘Participatory Action Research in Health Systems: a methods reader’ EQUINET

Shah, S (1999) A Step-by-step guide to popular PLA tools and techniques in CARE Reproductive Health Programme ‘Embracing Participation in Development: Wisdom from the Field’ CARE: Atlanta