By Payam Sheikhattari, Michael T. Wright, Gillian B. Silver, Cyrilla van der Donk, and Bas van Lanen
Social workers, nurses, and other health professionals want to improve the health and wellbeing of those around them. And they want to know if their work is really making a difference. Every day they are faced with challenging questions, such as: What barriers are there to access? Who benefits the most from our services and why? Are we reaching the goals we set out to accomplish? Are we acting true to our values? Practitioner Research provides the tools to answer these and other pressing questions, adapting methods from research to the real-life demands of the practice environment. It allows practitioners to produce the evidence they need to assess and improve their practice in immediate and practical ways.
The Practitioner Research for Social Work, Nursing, and the Health Professions offers a clear, step-by-step guide to conducting short- and long-term research projects that can be integrated into your daily work. There are many real-world examples throughout from many different work settings and client/patient groups. Exercises at the end of each chapter provide an opportunity to reinforce what you’ve learned. The book offers a unique, practice-relevant approach to teaching and learning research at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, overcoming the gap many students often experience between their practical work and research logic. It is also a valuable resource for seasoned practitioners who are seeking a new perspective on their work. Through collaborative inquiry with patients/clients and colleagues, they can gain new insight for solving ongoing problems.
Practitioner research draws from traditions in the United Kingdom, Australia, and the Netherlands, originating in the field of education (teacher research) and more recently expanding to health care and social welfare professionals. We have published this American edition because we want US practitioners to share in the success that practitioners in other countries have gained by using our prior editions in Dutch and German.
Practitioner research is supported by empirically-based learning and evidence-based decision making and, at its best, involves all stakeholders (“360° perspective”). The Practitioner Research Method comprises seven key components: (1) orientation; (2) focusing; (3) planning; (4) data collection; (5) design and innovation; (6) analysis and conclusion; (7) documentation and presentation. The book explains these steps in detail, with applications from actual projects that help you envision how you could do similar research.
It can take convincing to get a workplace setting onboard with using practitioner research. We address common barriers in planning and implementing projects, focusing on (1) acquiring the knowledge and expertise in how to conduct a successful research project in your particular setting, (2) identifying a research topic relevant to all involved, (3) winning support from your colleagues and management, (4) building trusting relationships with key stakeholders, and (5) identifying the necessary logistical support and resources. The Practitioner Research Method will help you to appraise your work environment critically, identify potential practice problems, and generate promising ideas to address them. Your success in gaining support depends on the merits of your ideas and how you present them: there will always be ethical, logistical, and administrative considerations.
Practitioner research enables professionals to learn systematically from their own experiences. It is an empirical approach embedded in practitioners’ work routines that serves as a basis for innovation in practice. The findings from Practitioner Research studies have the potential to result in time and cost savings due to improved practice, an enhanced capacity for problem-solving, and a broadened understanding of the bigger picture and the real needs of clients and patients.