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J Particip Med. 2011 Feb 23;3. pii: e-10.

Participatory Action Research in Public Mental Health and a School of Nursing: Qualitative Findings from an Academic-Community Partnership.


An academic-community partnership between a school of nursing (SON) at a public university (the University of Virginia, or UVA) and a public mental health clinic developed around a shared goal of finding an acceptable shared decision making (SDM) intervention targeting medication use by persons with serious mental illness. The planning meetings of the academic-community partnership were recorded and analyzed. Issues under the partnership process included 1) clinic values and priorities, 2) research agenda, 3) ground rules, and 4) communication. Issues under the SDM content included: 1) barriers, 2) information exchange, 3) positive aspects of shared decision making, and 4) technology. Using participatory-action research (PAR), the community clinic was able to raise questions and concerns throughout the process, be actively involved in research activities (such as identifying stakeholders and co-leading focus groups), participate in the reflective activities on the impact of SDM on practice and policy, and feel ownership of the SDM intervention.

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