The value and challenges of participatory research: Strengthening its practice

Margaret Cargo, Shawna L. Mercer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

808 Citations (Scopus)


The increasing use of participatory research (PR) approaches to address pressing public health issues reflects PR's potential for bridging gaps between research and practice, addressing social and environmental justice and enabling people to gain control over determinants of their health. Our critical review of the PR literature culminates in the development of an integrative practice framework that features five essential domains and provides a structured process for developing and maintaining PR partnerships, designing and implementing PR efforts, and evaluating the intermediate and long-term outcomes of descriptive, etiological, and intervention PR studies. We review the empirical and nonempirical literature in the context of this practice framework to distill the key challenges and added value of PR. Advances to the practice of PR over the next decade will require establishing the effectiveness of PR in achieving health outcomes and linking PR practices, processes, and core elements to health outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)325-350
Number of pages26
JournalAnnual Review of Public Health
Publication statusPublished - 5 May 2008
Externally publishedYes


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