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      Participatory Action Research With Older Adults: A Critical Interpretive Synthesis

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          Abstract

          Background and Objectives

          Given population aging, the meaningful involvement of older adults in influencing policy and programs through participatory action research (PAR) is increasingly vital. PAR holds promise for equitable participation, co-learning, community mobilization, and personal and social transformation, however, little scholarly attention has been given to critically evaluating how PAR has been taken up with older adults. The objective of this review was to critically evaluate the use of PAR with older adults.

          Research Design and Methods

          A critical interpretive synthesis (CIS) of 40 PAR studies with older adults was conducted. Critical engagement with the articles identified dominant tendencies, limits of these tendencies, and proposed ways forward.

          Results

          Within the majority of articles reviewed, older adults were not prominent partners in PAR given their often limited involvement in designing the research questions, learning research skills and knowledge, and implementing findings for change. Furthermore, power differentials between researchers and older adults were evident, as older adults were often positioned as participants rather than partners. Finally, this article demonstrates various boundaries on the foci of studies related to inclusivity and sustainability.

          Discussion and Implications

          This study revealed that the promises PAR holds are often not fully realized in projects with older adults, given that they are rarely positioned as equitable partners, co-learners, or agents for change. The findings have the potential to stimulate further uptake of PAR research with an older adult population, highlighting areas for change in systems and research practices.

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          Most cited references 61

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          Three approaches to qualitative content analysis.

          Content analysis is a widely used qualitative research technique. Rather than being a single method, current applications of content analysis show three distinct approaches: conventional, directed, or summative. All three approaches are used to interpret meaning from the content of text data and, hence, adhere to the naturalistic paradigm. The major differences among the approaches are coding schemes, origins of codes, and threats to trustworthiness. In conventional content analysis, coding categories are derived directly from the text data. With a directed approach, analysis starts with a theory or relevant research findings as guidance for initial codes. A summative content analysis involves counting and comparisons, usually of keywords or content, followed by the interpretation of the underlying context. The authors delineate analytic procedures specific to each approach and techniques addressing trustworthiness with hypothetical examples drawn from the area of end-of-life care.
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            The qualitative content analysis process.

            This paper is a description of inductive and deductive content analysis. Content analysis is a method that may be used with either qualitative or quantitative data and in an inductive or deductive way. Qualitative content analysis is commonly used in nursing studies but little has been published on the analysis process and many research books generally only provide a short description of this method. When using content analysis, the aim was to build a model to describe the phenomenon in a conceptual form. Both inductive and deductive analysis processes are represented as three main phases: preparation, organizing and reporting. The preparation phase is similar in both approaches. The concepts are derived from the data in inductive content analysis. Deductive content analysis is used when the structure of analysis is operationalized on the basis of previous knowledge. Inductive content analysis is used in cases where there are no previous studies dealing with the phenomenon or when it is fragmented. A deductive approach is useful if the general aim was to test a previous theory in a different situation or to compare categories at different time periods.
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              The value and challenges of participatory research: strengthening its practice.

              The increasing use of participatory research (PR) approaches to address pressing public health issues reflects PR's potential for bridging gaps between research and practice, addressing social and environmental justice and enabling people to gain control over determinants of their health. Our critical review of the PR literature culminates in the development of an integrative practice framework that features five essential domains and provides a structured process for developing and maintaining PR partnerships, designing and implementing PR efforts, and evaluating the intermediate and long-term outcomes of descriptive, etiological, and intervention PR studies. We review the empirical and nonempirical literature in the context of this practice framework to distill the key challenges and added value of PR. Advances to the practice of PR over the next decade will require establishing the effectiveness of PR in achieving health outcomes and linking PR practices, processes, and core elements to health outcomes.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                The Gerontologist
                Oxford University Press (OUP)
                0016-9013
                1758-5341
                August 2020
                July 15 2020
                July 02 2019
                August 2020
                July 15 2020
                July 02 2019
                : 60
                : 5
                : e413-e427
                Affiliations
                [1 ]Graduate Program in Health and Rehabilitation Sciences
                [2 ]School of Occupational Therapy, The University of Western Ontario, London, Canada
                Article
                10.1093/geront/gnz080
                © 2019

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