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Table 1 Comparison of strengths and weaknesses of action research compared to randomized controlled trials and improvement campaigns

From: The time is now for action research

  Randomized controlled trial Action research Improvement campaign
Strengths • Demonstrates efficacy of an intervention • Facilitates tailored approach based on context • Motivates widespread participation
• Promotes careful attention to intervention protocol • Allows adjustment
• Provides feedback regarding how and why interventions succeed or fail
• Engages frontline expertise and increases likelihood of sustaining the intervention
Weaknesses • Does not address contextual factors, except through exclusion criteria • Difficult to assess systematically and to conduct at scale • Does not address contextual factors