Social impact of participatory health research: collaborative non-linear processes of knowledge mobilization

Tineke A. Abma, Tina Cook, Margaretha Rämgård, Elisabeth Kleba, Janet Harris, Nina Wallerstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

60 Citations (Scopus)
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Social impact, defined as an effect on society, culture, quality of life,community services, or public policy beyond academia, is widely considered as a relevant requirement for scientific research, especially in the field of health care. Traditionally, in health research, the process of knowledge transfer is rather linear and one-sided and has not recognized and integrated the expertise of practitioners and those who use services. This can lead to discrimination or disqualification of knowledge and epistemic injustice. Epidemic injustice is a situation wherein certain kinds of knowers and knowledge are not taken seriously into account to define a situation. The purpose of our article is to explore how health researchers can achieve social impact for a wide audience, involving them in a non-linear process of joint learning on urgent problems recognized by the various stakeholders in public health. In participatory health research impact is not preordained by one group of stakeholders, but the result of a process of reflection and dialog with multiple stakeholders on what counts as valuable outcomes. This knowledge mobilization and winding pathway embarked upon during such research have the potential for impact along the way as opposed to the expectation that impact will occur merely at the end of a research project. We will discuss and illustrate the merits of taking a negotiated, discursive and flexible pathway in the area of community-based health promotion.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEducational Action Research
Early online date28 May 2017
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 28 May 2017


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