Action research as a catalyst for change: Empowered nurses facilitating patient participation in rehabilitation

Randi Steensgaard, Raymond Kolbæk, Julie Borup Jensen, Sanne Angel

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Based on action research as a practitioner-involving approach, this article communicates the findings of a two-year study on implementing patient participation as an empowering learning process for both patients and rehabilitation nurses. At a rehabilitation facility for patients who have sustained spinal cord injuries, eight nurses were engaged throughout the process aiming at improving patient participation. The current practice was explored to understand possibilities and obstacles to patient participation. Observations, interviews and logbooks, creative workshops and reflective meetings led to the development and testing of four new rehabilitation initiatives aimed at enhancing patient participation. This study suggests that skills of critical reflection from action research toolbox shed light on both the notion of patient participation and caring in nursing rehabilitation. By actively involving nurses in research, the knowledge development stems from practice and the solutions therefore became practice-oriented. In addition, the personal and professional development experienced by the involved nurses points to a secondary gain in the form of an analytical and reflective approach to complex issues in relation to patient participation, rehabilitation in general and the individual nurses' sense of professional pride.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere12370
JournalNursing Inquiry
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2021


  • action research
  • change management
  • nurse roles
  • organisational development
  • patient participation
  • rehabilitation
  • rehabilitation nursing


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