7th Biennial ACSPRI Social Science Methodology Conference

The unexpected benefits of engaging in Participatory Action Research
2020-12-02, 13:45–14:00, Zoom Breakout Room 2

Professional peer support is scarce for speciality nursing and health service personnel, particularly in rural and remote locations. Furthermore, professional peer support is key to service sustainability and staff retention in isolated nursing specialities. Through the utilisation of Participatory Action Research (PAR) methodology, supported by a Community of Practice (CoP) framework a group of rural and remote speciality clinicians overcame their fear of research and simultaneously developed a sustainable model of professional peer support which is inclusive, collaborative and empowering.
Objective / Aims
The objective of this study was to develop a model of professional peer support for speciality nurses and health professionals who practice in isolation both geographically and professionally.
Description / Methodology
Participatory Action Research is democratic, pragmatic and is grounded in collaborative, inclusive and interactive processes. PAR addresses social change for the enrichment of an identified community. PAR is a process whereby a small group of co-researchers and principal researcher work together to understand in greater depth their own circumstances enabling change to occur. The researchers of this study collaboratively set guidelines for the study including the aims and objectives of the research, cyclical intervals, meeting place or mode and membership thereby, enhancing ownership of the study. PAR creates ownership of developmental change through voluntary participation. Continued voluntary participation enables the development of a sustainable Communities of Practice e.g. A group of like-minded speciality nurses who share ideas, develop new knowledge and most importantly are empowered and supported.
Results / Outcomes
Through a qualitative thematic analysis of the PAR study, themes were identified from which a sustainable model of professional peer support was developed. Additionally, some unexpected positive outcomes transpired from the study including a desire from the participants to engage in further study and research. While empowerment and professional peer support are qualities paramount to continued service provision, isolated health professionals need researchers “at the bedside” hence the additional increased interest in research is significant to the nursing and health profession.
Participatory action research enables sustainable pragmatic outcomes bringing clinicians together, developing trust and empowerment while improving practice. Therefore, participation in pragmatic participatory research supports clinicians and simultaneously improves service provision. This study identified a need, assisted to close the identified practice-research gap and inspired clinicians in their daily service provision in isolated areas.

Knowledge translation – methodologies and methods for impactful research.
This significant PAR research study developed new knowledge as well as providing meaningful sustainable peer support to isolated speciality nurses across 320,000 square kilometres.

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