Background: Participatory action research engenders change not just through research outcomes but through the research process itself. Collaboration between researchers and those being researched is intrinsic to the model.
Objective: This article discusses the 'Sadness and Heart Disease' research project undertaken by an Aboriginal community controlled health service in Darwin (Northern Territory) in 2005 and 2006 using a participatory action framework.
Discussion: A systematic approach, flexibility and a willingness to engage are necessary for researchers to successfully undertake a project using the participatory action framework. The benefits of participatory action research extend to both the community and the researchers.