A Handbook for Action Research in Health and Social Care

A Handbook for Action Research in Health and Social Care

A Handbook for Action Research in Health and Social Care

A Handbook for Action Research in Health and Social Care

Synopsis

Can research have an immediate practical benefit in the place where it is undertaken?

Action research is a form of research closely linked to practice and can readily be undertaken by practitioners and service users. A Handbook for Action Research in Health and Social Care offers a comprehensive guide to action research as a strategy for inquiry and development in professional contexts with particular reference to health and social care. It features:

-- an introduction to the theories behind action research and how these are related to other forms of research

-- fully described case studies from social work, nursing, mental health care, community work and service-user research

-- a step-by-step study guide.

The theoretical section of the book provides a general definition of action research and compares action research with other forms of social research. It outlines the nature of a 'culture of inquiry' in the workplace and describes the links between action research and service-user research,,management, community development, evaluation, reflective practice, feminist research and anti-racist research.

The case studies show the variety of approaches possible in action research in a range of settings, for example: an acute surgical ward; a supported housing scheme for people with mental health problems; a Day Centre for people with profound learning disabilities, and a coronary care unit. They include examples of large and small-scale projects carried out by practitioners, managers and service-users.

The practical study guide covers all stages of the research process from preparing a proposal, gathering and analysing data, to writing a final report. Issues arising fromthe ethics and principles of action research procedure and the links between action research and critical reflection are also explored.

A Handbook for Action Research in Health and Social Care will be particularly useful

Excerpt

The title Handbook is intended to indicate the varied nature of the contents and the different ways in which the book may be used or approached. In Part I there is a sequence of chapters giving a general theory of action research, first as a simple outline, then in more detail - comparing action research with other forms of social research - and finally emphasising its range and variety. Some may wish to start with this material, but others may prefer to begin by looking at the series of practical examples from different contexts presented in Part II and then go on afterwards to compare them with the theoretical discussions. The most abstract presentation of a ‘theory’ for action research is postponed to the end of the volume, to signal that although it may be of key importance for some readers, others may not find it necessary, and that in any case it is not essential for an understanding of the rest of the book. There is also a ‘Practical guide’ (Part III) which is intended specifically for groups wishing to use the Handbook to support them in undertaking their own practical developmental work, either independently or as part of a tutor-led course. For such readers, Part III may be their starting point for approaching the other material.

The book is a joint enterprise arising from a longstanding commitment on the part of both authors to the democratisation of social research. The themes and structure of the book were the outcome of lengthy discussions in which we combined our different but complementary approaches. Thus, Carol Munn-Giddings contributes experience and knowledge of service-user movements, service-user research, the community development tradition, and feminist research; and Richard Winter has particular expertise concerning practitioner action research, theories of management, and research methodologies based on collaborative developmental reflection.

Most of Parts I and IV of the book were initially drafted by Richard Winter, and revised in response to commentary and additions by Carol Munn-Giddings. Chapter 3 was written jointly, and represents a synthesis of our differing perspectives on action research. The same is true of the series of practice examples in Part II, for which we were jointly involved in identifying the contributors. Part III consists of material devised over many years for Richard Winter’s courses on action research at Anglia Polytechnic University for social workers, nurses, managers, lecturers and school teachers. The final editorial work was undertaken by Richard Winter.

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