Evidence Library

Title: Participatory action research: Lessons learned with Aboriginal grandmothers.
Author: Dickson, G. & Green, K.
Date Published: 2001
Reference: Health Care for Women International, 22(5), 471-482.
Are service users or carers authors: No/Not Known


This article draws out the lessons learned from a participatory action research project that involved Aboriginal women. They helped to carry out a health assessment as part of a larger health promotion project that aimed to meet the needs of older Aboriginal women.

Aboriginal women were involved as members of an Advisory Committee who guided the start-up and development of the project, and as co-researchers who:

  • designed interview questions and information for participants
  • analysed data
  • helped draft the assessment report
  • took action on findings from the project.

Two middle-aged Aboriginal women were also hired as research associates and conducted interviews with community members.

Their involvement changed the nature and pace of the project, linking the health needs assessment to other health promoting activities and shifting the emphasis from 'problems' to 'strengths'.

The women involved benefited from:

  • establishing new social support systems
  • recognising their own strengths and values
  • a raised awareness of issues they had not previously questioned
  • growing in self-esteem and confidence.

Action was taken on numerous individual and social issues making a direct link between the research and community action and change.

As the project became known in the community, the women were asked to receive visitors and invited to sit on committees. This gave them opportunities to speak out about issues they felt strongly about, advocating for themselves and the wider Aboriginal community.

The project thus helped to the women to create alliances and build the skills and organisation necessary to support ongoing health promoting activity.

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Related entry: none currently available

Categories: public health
Designing research
Managing research
Undertaking research
Analysing and interpreting
Writing up and disseminating
impact on research
impact on service users involved
impact on implementation and change
impact of public involvement
journal article
Implementation and change

Date Entered: 2009/01/27

Date Edited: 2012/11/20

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