Using Participatory Research to Challenge the Status Quo for Women's Cardiovascular Health
Wharf Higgins, Joan
Nursing inquiry 2010 Dec; 17(4): 346-58
Cardiovascular health research has been dominated by medical and patriarchal paradigms, minimizing a broader perspective of causes of disease. Socioeconomic status as a risk for cardiovascular disease is well established by research, yet these findings have had little influence. Participatory research (PR) that frames mixed method research has potential to bring contextualized clinically relevant findings into program planning and policy-making arenas toward developing meaningful health and social policies relevant to primary prevention. In this article we provide an overview of a PR program that included two quantitative and one qualitative studies and then we discuss lessons learned. The PR process we found was empowering for lone mothers, and transformative for lone mothers and researchers. Further, PR as an approach to research opened spaces in practice and policy-making arenas to raise upstream issues relevant to the health of low income lone mothers. We conclude that while PR is an effective approach to social determinants research, as a time-intensive endeavor, and one that does not easily align with research tradition, researchers must consider the strengths and drawbacks of PR when planning to implement such an approach.
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