Using Participatory Action Research Methodology to Improve Worker Health
This chapter explores why Participatory Action Research (PAR) is useful for and consistent with an examination of jobs or workplaces as entire systems, as opposed to viewing worker health outcomes as the outcome of individual behaviors or as the result of single work tasks or exposures. Investigations in the PAR context incorporate a systematic effort to generate knowledge about specific conditions that can influence changes in a given situation. PAR has its academic roots in sociology, social psychology, psychology, organizational studies, and education. Psychological distress and violence emerged as major factors linked to organizational factors and management practices, with negative effects on worker health and productivity. For a worker health study, where a change process is part of the study design, direct involvement with the participants is essential. PAR has also been used as a methodology to address community and organization issues, including management and labor issues in various countries.