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Palliat Med. 2011 Dec;25(8):782-7. doi: 10.1177/0269216311420483. Epub 2011 Aug 24.

Action research in palliative care: defining an evaluation methodology.

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Lancaster University, Lancaster, UK.



Action research is beginning to be utilized within palliative care research to address questions concerned with practice and organizational change. An understanding of appropriate evaluation practices is required in order to ensure that high-quality action research is conducted.


The aim of this paper is to present an account of participatory action research and illustrate the way in which evaluation approaches are integrated within this methodology.


Participatory action research will be described identifying its origins, principles and its relationship with evaluation frameworks. The key features of the evaluation process in regard to participatory research are outlined.


Two studies are presented which illustrate the integration of evaluation within a participatory action research framework. The first approach uses a before-after summative evaluation approach in a study undertaken to develop palliative care practice within a UK nursing home context. The evaluation focused upon the impact of the intervention. The second study utilized similar methods and addressed the process of the action research using the Äldreväst Sjuhärad (ÄVS) model to evaluate participation in a peer education programme for advance care planning amongst older adults.


These examples of evaluation within action research illustrate how diverse methods can be used. The use of a specific participatory evaluation model ensures the process reflects the underlying participatory principle of action research.


Evaluation processes are integral to action research approaches. The specific evaluative methods adopted will reflect the nature and focus of the evaluation being undertaken.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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