Tastes like Participatory Action Research: Conducting a Knowledge Translation Intervention with Families in Long-term Care

Jennifer Baumbusch, Alison Phinney, Dyona Dallas, Elizabeth Holmes, Denise Beaton, Isabel Sloan-Yip
University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada

Although families are a cornerstone of care in long-term care (LTC) settings, there is a paucity of intervention research with this group. Of those published, it is evident that interventions can enhance family-staff relationships, improve health outcomes for family members, and result in better quality care for residents. Following an extensive search of the literature, we were unable to identify any knowledge translation interventions with this group. To begin to address this gap, we examine our experience, as researchers and family members, in co-creating a knowledge translation intervention. While not explicitly participatory action research, the process undertaken to develop the intervention reflected elements of this approach. The intervention itself entailed a workshop series aimed at increasing family members’ sense of involvement in their relative’s facility by providing education, peer support and networking opportunities. A core group of researchers and family members (‘the development team’) came together to create these workshops. Participant observation was conducted during workshop development meetings and the developers were interviewed about this process of co-creation. Findings illuminate the tensions of this approach to research, such as the privileging of certain types of knowledge (e.g. clinical, empirical, experiential) and power relations among participants. We will discuss how these tensions were navigated (or not) and provide recommendations for further methodological explorations in knowledge translation interventions informed by participatory action research.  As we enter a new era emphasizing patient and family engagement in research, this study provides useful insights into how to navigate this terrain in long-term care.