Using PAR or “Abusing Its Good Name”?: The Challenges and Surprises of Photovoice and Film in a Study of Chronic Illness

  • Dawn Allen
  • Thomas Hutchinson


Without dispute, kidney dialysis treatment has been successful in saving lives. As a result of this intervention, increasing numbers of people are now facing the many physical, social, and emotional challenges of living with ESRD (end stage renal disease). Compromised vision, mobility, dexterity, and overall health have presented important methodological challenges to the authors’ participatory action research (PAR) study of ESRD patients’ quality of life. This article proceeds broadly in three steps: (a) an explanation of the authors’ interest in PAR and the challenges that ESRD poses for PAR, (b) a description of how they adapted two visual techniques (photovoice and documentary film making) to address those challenges, and (c) a discussion of how they have and have not overcome the challenges of working with PAR.
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