A Realist Approach to Analysis in a Participatory Research Project

Online Publication Date:
April 18, 2022
Publication Status:
Published Article MUSE Link:
Manuscript PDF File:

**Published in Progress in Community Health Partnerships (PCHP) 16.2S. All rights reserved.**

Background: Realist reviews have shown the effectiveness of participatory action research but the realist approach has not been used in combination with a participatory approach in qualitative data analysis.
Objectives: In order to study the links between pre-existing conditions in neighbourhoods and the kind of actions taken at the community level during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto, a community-university research partnership used a critical realist approach to analyse qualitative interviews with grassroots leaders. This paper describes the procedures developed to enable participation of the full community-academic team in the analysis.
Methods: One analyst coded paragraphs in all 46 interviews for pre-existing conditions (contexts), actions taken (Intervention components), the often implicit factors that underpinned the actions (mechanisms), and observed results (outcomes) as stated by the interviewees. Each interview was summarized in terms of the contexts (C), actions (I), mechanisms (M) and outcomes (O) identified and 1-7 mid-range CIMO hypotheses were developed for each interview. A second level of analysis involved sense-making workshops with the community partner and a cross-section of interviewees using the CIMO statements.
Conclusions: This paper describes the realist approach to analysis and the changes that were made to enable a mixed team of community leaders and academics to generate overall statements of impact. This is a novel approach to qualitative data analysis, with a range of implications for the use of this technique in participatory research.