Participatory Action Research into Low Literates’ Medical Needs in Rural Communities

Wenbo Ai


This paper describes initial, exploratory fieldwork carried out at Hantun village in Henan Province, China by a Royal College of Art research student in April 2018. It focuses on low literates’ medical issues – the prescription and taking of medicines as prescribed – and is divided into three:

Stage 1: Initial exploration of work: interviews with doctors, survey of patients and participant observations;

Stage 2: Reflective and reflexive observations and interviews, plus the participant workshop with low-literate villagers;

Stage 3: Evaluating the participatory design.

The aim of this stage of the research journey was to collect primary data, understand the behaviour of the core data set – their needs, desires, habits, perceptions and unique cognitive strategies in terms of use of visual elements – and identify problems within the context of healthcare in Hantun. What might be the system of public health advocacy and how does government – local and provincial – as well as public and private health services manage key issues? More importantly, this paper addresses the examination of design theory and evaluation of research methodology. It shows how participatory research methods may contribute to answering research questions and lead to the next research stage.


Medical Needs; Rural Communities; Henan Province; Health Services.


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DOI: 10.28991/SciMedJ-2019-0104-3


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