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Ann Fam Med. 2010 May-Jun;8(3):256-9. doi: 10.1370/afm.1117.

System-based participatory research in health care: an approach for sustainable translational research and quality improvement.

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Division of Research, Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Program, Northern California, 2000 Broadway, Oakland, CA 94612, USA.


Translational research seeks to improve health care by promoting action and change in real-world health care settings. Although translational research advocates a break from the traditional researcher-initiated approach to science, strategies to successfully engage clinicians and leaders of health care delivery organizations in research are still under development. We propose that applying the principles of community-based participatory research in a way that considers delivery systems-including their leaders, clinicians, and staff-as a focal community can enhance the ability of translational research to improve health care. Applying participatory research methods, such as engaging in collaborative partnerships, building on existing community strengths, investing in long-term relationships, and engaging in research as a cyclical, iterative process, can be a successful approach to sustainable quality improvement at the systems level.

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