Social Change Research and Health

With Social Change research, the researchers are working not only to figure out what’s happening but also to actively make changes in whatever social situation they’re participating in (Penn State, 2014). Sometimes researchers will see an issue that is occurring in a community and in attempts to stop it or alter it, they’ll join the community and try to learn the situation while solving the problem (Schneider et al., 2012).

Participatory research has become quite large in the health department from what I’ve learned. According to Community Campus – Partnership for Health, otherwise known as CCPH, the agencies that fun researchers are interested in looking at social change research as opposed to the types of applied research that were taught earlier in the course (“Community-Based Participatory Research”).

An example of social change research in the health field in recent years is the use of participatory research in radiology by Mathers and colleagues in 2010. In this research, they attempt to acquire knowledge about children with radiology through and with the collaboration of the individuals who were being studied. They wished to ensure that the research methods that they utilized allowed the children to express themselves freely, and participatory research was perfect for that purpose. They wished to research methods of engaging with this children and if their radiology treatment was getting in the way of their participation in certain activities. Their results turned out to be inconclusive, but the researchers’ use of participatory research allowed them to note other things, such as that the children’s treatment didn’t impede their eagerness to participate in the research Mathers et al, 2010).

The national prevention researching agenda has kept its focus primarily on participatory research where the communities can play a part in bringing change. Both public and national initiatives are investing in social change research to study and better health including the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences that has provided translational research grants for the cause as well as the WK Kellogg Foundation’s Community-Based Public Health Initiative and Community Health Scholars Program and CDC’s prevention and urban research centers (“Community-Based Participatory Research”). Social change research is truly growing in the field of health, and I feel that soon we’ll be seeing a lot more of it in health-related research articles.


Community-Based Participatory Research. (n.d.). Community Campus – Partnership for Health: Promoting Health Equality & Social Justice. Retrieved April 21, 2014, from

Mathers, S. A., Anderson, H., Mcdonald, S., & Chesson, R. A. (2010). Developing participatory research in radiology: the use of a graffiti wall, cameras and a video box in a Scottish radiology department. Pediatric Radiology, 40(3), 309-317.

Schneider, F. W., Gruman, J. A., and Coutts, L. M. (Eds.) (2012). Applied Social Psychology: Understanding and Addressing Social and Practical Problems (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications. ISBN 978-1412976381

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