Implementing participatory intervention and research in communities

Lessons from the Kahnawake Schools Diabetes Prevention Project in Canada

Louise Potvin, Margaret Cargo, Alex M. McComber, Treena Delormier, Ann C. Macaulay

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

121 Citations (Scopus)


Community public health interventions based on citizen and community participation are increasingly discussed as promising avenues for the reduction of health inequalities and the promotion of social justice. However, very few authors have provided explicit principles and guidelines for planning and implementing such interventions, especially when they are linked with research. Traditional approaches to public health programming emphasise expert knowledge, advanced detailed planning, and the separation of research from intervention. Despite the usefulness of these approaches for evaluating targeted narrow-focused interventions, they may not be appropriate in community health promotion, especially in Aboriginal communities. Using the experience of the Kahnawake Schools Diabetes Prevention Project, in Canada, this paper elaborates four principles as basic components for an implementation model of community programmes. The principles are: (1) the integration of community people and researchers as equal partners in every phase of the project, (2) the structural and functional integration of the intervention and evaluation research components, (3) having a flexible agenda responsive to demands from the broader environment, and (4) the creation of a project that represents learning opportunities for all those involved. The emerging implementation model for community interventions, as exemplified by this project, is one that conceives a programme as a dynamic social space, the contours and vision of which are defined through an ongoing negotiation process.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1295-1305
Number of pages11
JournalSocial Science and Medicine
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2003
Externally publishedYes


Cite this