Introduction: Reorienting work practices to include health promotion and prevention is complex and requires specific strategies and interventions. This paper presents original research that used 'real-world' practice to demonstrate that knowledge gathered from practice is relevant for the development of practice-based evidence. The paper shows how practitioners can inform and influence improvements in health promotion practice. Practitioner-informed evidence necessarily incorporates qualitative research to capture the richness of their reflective experiences. Methods: Using a participatory action research (PAR) approach, the research question asked 'what are the core dimensions of building health promotion capacity in a primary health care workforce in a real-world setting?' PAR is a method in which the researcher operates in full collaboration with members of the organisation being studied for the purposes of achieving some kind of change, in this case to increase the amount of health promotion and prevention practice within this community health setting. The PAR process involved six reflection and action cycles over two years. Data collection processes included: survey; in-depth interviews; a training intervention; observations of practice; workplace diaries; and two nominal groups. The listen/reflect/act process enabled lessons from practice to inform future capacity-building processes. Results: This research strengthened and supported the development of health promotion to inform 'better health' practices through respectful change processes based on research, practitioner-informed evidence, and capacity-building strategies. A conceptual model for building health promotion capacity in the primary health care workforce was informed by the PAR processes and recognised the importance of the determinants approach. Conclusion: Practitioner-informed evidence is the missing link in the evidence debate and provides the links between evidence and its translation to practice. New models of health promotion service delivery can be developed in community settings recognising the importance of involving practitioners themselves in these processes.
- Capacity building
- Health promotion model
- Participatory action research
- Practitioner-informed evidence
- Reorienting health services