D7: Case Studies in Participatory Action Research and Its Role in Total Worker Health

Jennifer Sahmel, CIH, CSP, FAIHA Moderator
Insight Exposure and Risk Sciences
Boulder, CO 
United States of America
Zoe Philip Presenter
Insight Exposure and Risk Sciences Group LLC
Boulder, CO 
Abigail McEwen Co-Presenter
Insight Exposure
Arlington, VA 
Silke von Esenwein, PhD Co-Presenter
Emory University, Rollins School of Public Health
Atlanta, GA 
United States of America
Mon, 5/24: 3:15 PM - 4:15 PM
Education Session 
Room: Virtual 6 


Participatory action research (PAR), a method that has been around since the 1940s, includes a group of methods and a guiding principle focusing on collaboration and equality between researchers and subjects. It is a promising tool for tailoring programs to fit the needs of different organizations. PAR methods include qualitative and quantitative strategies, such as focus groups, interviews, and surveys. To understand the extent to which a PAR approach has been used in Total Worker Health® (TWH) studies, a comprehensive literature search of online databases was performed to identify published studies that explicitly mentioned TWH and which used a PAR approach. Several case studies using PAR methodologies are presented to illustrate important lessons in the factors that affect the success of research and interventions in TWH. IH has relied heavily on experts using quantitative methods and a top down approach. Ultimately, employee participation and qualitative or mixed methods, as well as employees as experts in their own experiences; may better support sustainable, meaningful change.

Learning Outcomes

Upon completion of the session, the participant will be able to:

• Define participatory action research (PAR) methods.
• Identify facilitators and barriers to successful implementation.
• Describe the extent that PAR has been used in TWH research.
• Review case studies on PAR approaches.
• Identify TWH research and programs which may benefit from PAR methodologies.


Total Exposure Health/Total Worker Health ®
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