Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Nearing the final stage - project update

Classified as: Project update - progress report, theory

Looking towards Mt Abrupt, from Dunkeld
The 'Promoting equity, sustainability and health' research project is nearing its final stage. I hope to complete data collection in June-July this year and finish writing up the thesis in mid-late 2015.

Key milestones in the research so far have been:

Stage 1
  • Ethics approval granted (Monash Human Research Ethics Committee September 2011, Alfred Health Ethics Committee November 2011)
  • Two workshops held by ISEPICH Primary Care Partnership (PCP) in November 2011 and February 2012 (notes and reports from these workshops form part of the project data)
  • Focus groups with 20 research participants from ISEPICH in November-December 2011 and February 2012 (over the course of the project there have been 24 research participants from ISEPICH in total, including 11 staff members from ISEPICH member agencies and 13 community members) 
Stage 2
  • ISEPICH PCP stopped supporting the project in July 2012, although individual research participants from the ISEPICH catchment continued to take part
  • Project amended to include participants from two additional PCPs, both in regional Victoria. Ethics approval for the amendments granted by Monash, March 2013 (No participants from Alfred Health in Stage 2 of the project to date)
  • Interviews and focus groups with 14 participants from ISEPICH and 15 participants from the other two PCPs in April - November 2013
I am planning to distribute a report and short survey to all research participants in June- July 2014. This will be the final point of data collection.

I hope to finish analysing the data and writing up the thesis by about July 2015. I also hope to write one or two articles for publication and give one or two conference presentations on the research during the next twelve months.

Data analysis
At present I expect the data analysis will take the following form:

Key content
  • Meanings of equity and sustainability
  • Principles for promoting equity and sustainability
  • Commonalities between promoting equity and sustainability
  • Actions - what have participants done to promote equity and sustainability, what have they achieved?
  • Barrier and enablers - what has helped and hindered them in this work?
  • How do the meanings, principles and actions identified in the project fit with, or conflict with, broader discourses in Victoria and elsewhere? What are the implications of this?

Theoretical perspectives
At the moment I think that the data analysis will be in three stages using the following perspectives (this may evolve differently in practice):
  • First level of analysis - Health promotion and action research theory
  • Second level of analysis - Social practice theory (possibly may also include some network theory analysis)
  • Third level of analysis - Social history and eco-feminist theory
In general terms this is an analysis that starts from the participants' point of view and then moves out to look at this from broader social perspectives. As this is an action research project the participants' point of view will always be central. Any research participants wanting to discuss this with me, please contact me directly through my contact details. Any member of the public who wishes to comment may do so through the comments section of this blog.

Note on "barriers and enablers"
The terminology of barriers and enablers is often used in health promotion but it does not seem to be very clearly theorised. Some literature suggests it derives from behavioural psychology, however in health promotion literature it seems to be used much more broadly, to encompass social determinants as well individual behaviour.  Some relevant references illustrating different ways of using the concepts of "barriers and enablers" are:
Burch S (2010) 'Transforming barriers into enablers of action on climate change: Insights from
three municipal case studies in British Columbia, Canada' Global Environmental Change 20: 287–297
Dodson EA et al (2009) 'Preventing Childhood Obesity through State Policy: Qualitative Assessment of Enablers and Barriers' Journal of Public Health Policy 30: S161–S176
McGuire, AM & Anderson, DJ (2012) 'Lifestyle risk factor modification in midlife women with type 2 diabetes : theoretical modelling of perceived barriers' Australian Journal of Advanced Nursing 30(1): 49-57.

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Please excuse me while I tidy up my blog!

Classified as: Reflective journal, methodology, blog

(Apologies to anyone on Google+ who just saw a whole lot of updates from me. I'm just doing an ethics application for amendments to the research project, and it has reminded me that I must tidy up this blog. I'm now going to go through the blog and classify all entries, as explained below. I thought I had turned off automatic updates before doing this, but it looks like I hadn't. Hopefully it's fixed now and you won't get more after this.)

The reason I need to tidy it up the blog is that it has evolved from being mainly about providing project updates and information (the aim when I first started it) to now also including a lot of entries about my reflections, ideas and advocacy.  When I started this research project, I kept a reflective journal. This was always meant to be part of the research data, but I originally kept it as a private journal. Over time, as I have become more confident  and more used to writing on the blog, I have begun to publish a lot of  ideas and opinions on the blog, and  make fewer entries in the private journal. However, looking through it, I think it is important to make a distinction between Reflective Journal entries, and Project Updates. I am somewhat restricted as I am not supposed to publish 'finished work' for the PhD thesis prior to submitting the thesis (except as articles in academic journals). However Project Updates, even though not in final thesis form, will be based on review of evidence to date, while Reflective journal entries may quite free flowing and random, and are more like data and work-in-progress.

Advocacy may be classified under Project Updates or Reflective Journal, depending on the nature of the advocacy, however would also like to stress that advocacy is a legitimate part of a participatory research project, and I may also put advocacy posts on twitter or Facebook or promote them through other blogs, and so on. It's difficult sometimes to classify advocacy in practice - is it part of the research for this project, or part of  my role as a researcher, or as a private individual? Not always clear.

So the classifications will be reflective journal or project updates, with subheadings, and will be at the top or bottom of the post.

Comments are welcome as ever.

Saturday, 10 May 2014

Enemies of change, enemies of life

 "the essential quality of living is change ... The static, the enemy of change, is the enemy of life ..."
John Wyndham The Chrysalids*

Classified as: reflective journal, - discourse, advocacy.

First published 11 May 2014, updated with minor changes 14 May 2014.

I've been doing a lot of reading and thinking about climate change denial lately, for the article I've been trying to write for nearly eighteen months (in my own defence, I have to say it's a difficult and complex topic).  I think I've almost finished it, but I don't know if it will ever be published. Anyway, I've learnt a lot from doing it, even if only in the way TS Eliot wrote:

And the end of all our journeying
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time

which also feels really relevant because I have just come back from journeying to the faraway child.

Also I have just read Lenore Taylor's great article in the Guardian about Tony Abbott and Denis Napthine being on the expensive road to nowhere. Plus, in the  comments on that article and elsewhere, such as John Quiggin, seen views from lots of people who think cyclists are a minor annoyance for motorists, at best.

From all of this, I am reminded that those who are the most opposed to change are those who are the most wedded to the status quo. Which is to say, largely "confident conservative white men"#.

The ambiguous and complex thing, though, is that the most obvious public opposition to them comes from those who are like them, but not quite the same (trust me, I've been researching this for a long time^), that is, men who are left wing. Rarely does one seem to see, in these particular debates, comments from women, people of colour, or children. These are the voices we need to hear. Get engaged in the climate debate people, because it's about our shared future, and the future of those we love.


*I remember reading this when I was a teenager. When  you read the whole passage you become aware that Wyndham was suggesting that the woman from the 'future' who said this, was just as convinced of the rightness of her position as those she was condemning, and just as ready to destroy them.  I think I knew this, but at the same time, being a teenager and a baby boomer in the 60s, I didn't really believe it. I thought that my generation would leave the war mongering rigidity of the past behind us. I see the irony, but I still hope.
#This quote actually is from American research, by McCright and Dunlap (2011), but it also seems to be a fairly good description of the current Australian government.
^Well I guess that's not really good enough for a researcher to say, is it? So I'll do another post about the evidence soon.