Participatory Health Research in North America: From Community Engagement to Evidence-Informed Practice

  • Jon SalsbergEmail author
  • Nickoo Merati


Participatory research is the systematic co-creation of new knowledge by researchers working in equitable partnerships with those affected by the issue under study or those who will benefit from or ultimately act on its results. In the North American context, participatory research, in general and particularly in health, has evolved as an approach to research ownership and co-governance, rather than a methodology or set of research methods. This reflects the contexts, settings, and partners that have valued and applied this approach over the past four decades to address community, clinical service, and policy needs. In this chapter, we will explore the foundations of participatory health research in North America, identifying the rationale for the shift from methodology to approach and then focusing on its emergence in the pre-health promotion era, its ascendency in driving community-based research, its move from health promotion to health practice, and its role in knowledge translation and the critique of evidence-based practice. From this perspective, we will conclude with a discussion of the current gaps in our understanding of participatory health research and directions for further study.


Participatory health research Knowledge co-production Participatory research Evidence-based practice Health services research Public and patient involvement Health promotion Knowledge translation 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Graduate Entry Medical School and Health Research Institute (HRI)University of LimerickLimerickIreland
  2. 2.Department of Family MedicineMcGill UniversityMontrealCanada

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