What is CAR?

Community Action Research (CAR) is an iterative development process, which combines reflection and analysis with action in local communities. CAR is a highly participatory approach to engage citizens, researchers, development partners and other professional stakeholders in iterative processes of developing, implementing and evaluating action.

The concept of “CAR” builds on a long tradition of Action Research (AR), Participatory Action Research (PAR), Community-based Participatory Research (CBPR), Systemic Action Research (SAR) and is not presented in opposition to those. With the “CAR” concept the network wants to put a special focus on community involvement in action research to help prevent and manage diabetes.

Values: Community Action Research is about …

  • Mobilising community resources through high levels of community involvement 
  • Iterative learning processes which combines reflection and analysis with action 
  • Building partnership between multiple stakeholders and creating long-term commitment
  • Linking research and action 
  • Promoting co-learning and empowerment


Why is CAR relevant? 

Community Action Research is relevant in type 2 diabetes prevention and management because it …

  • Provides context specific knowledge about community-identified and community-owned priorities and aspiration for healthy living
  • Empowers citizens to become dedicated agents of change and enhances the relevance of locally defined goals and strategies for action
  • Joins together multiple stakeholders to address complex community health issues through coordinated and integrated action
  • Fosters long-term commitment among citizens to engage in health interventions by mobilising human and tangible resources embedded in the local community
  • Provides meaningful and relevant assessments based on data that is generated and owned by the local community
  • Optimizes implementation processes and promotes sustainability of diabetes prevention and management outcomes in the local community
In CAR researchers, development partners and the community create knowledge as joint partners. It involves the collective production of knowledge to inform development and seeks to empower participants in such a way that it encourages change from within.  Participation of citizens in change processes in the local community is important because it fosters personal motivation, action competence, local ownership, social responsibility, community cohesion and sustainable development. CAR has the potential to break down the boundaries between research, policymaking and community development, and to make change and learning a self-generating and self-maintaining process based on dialogue, equity and democratic deliberations.
— Senior researcher Paul Bloch, SDCC