Participatory Action Research in Pharmacy Practice

  • Hazel BradleyEmail author


Participatory action research is part of a broad family of approaches and includes as its distinctive features action, reflection and partnership. In participatory action research, knowledge is created in the interplay between research and practice, thus requiring researchers to work with practitioners as active researchers and agents of change through iterative cycles of action and reflection. The purpose of participatory action research is to understand and effect change through generating new learning and knowledge whilst empowering participants. The approach facilitates in-depth understanding of issues in complex settings, which is perhaps not possible with narrower, traditional research approaches. Participatory action research's emergent nature is particularly suited to research in changing circumstances, such as professional development of pharmacists or developing pharmacy services in new settings.

This chapter describes the key features of the participatory action research approach, describes innovative participatory processes and methods and discusses critical issues of the approach including ethical concerns, quality and generalisability. The benefits and challenges and application of participatory action research are highlighted. Finally, I illustrate the application of the participatory action research approach through my own experience of conducting a case study to identify roles and competencies of district and sub-district pharmacists in Cape Town.


Participatory action research Action Reflection Participation Emergence Quality Pharmacy practice 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Public HealthUniversity of the Western CapeBellvilleSouth Africa

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