Hearing a Voice: Results of a Participatory Action Research Study

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participatory action research, youth, system of care, expectations


Interest in participatory action research (PAR) is rising among academics, researchers, families, and youth themselves who are involved in the system of care. PAR combines systematic research and professional guidance with the development of a practical intervention tailored to the user population in collaboration with the user population. We designed our research to sample and assess the level of interest in PAR for adolescents, gathering qualitative data about the level of understanding of, and expectations for, youth participatory action research. We present the results of a pilot study and then a survey, administered to two different conference populations during 2008. Our data offers insight into the world of service providers, beneficiaries, and advocates for children with mental health disorders. Based on the responses to our questionnaire, we identify four major themes and their underlying issues concerning the benefits and drawbacks of PAR for a young population. We also examine the concerns of each of the self-identified group to determine whether there were dominant characteristics for each group. We conclude that stakeholders do have reasonable expectations of participatory action research as a process and of the youth who could be empowered to bring about change in their system of care. Finally, we make recommendations for future research.



Citation / Publisher Attribution

Journal of Child and Family Studies, v. 21, issue 3, p. 512-519