Putting the Action into Participatory Action Research: Methodological Recommendations for Using Photovoice to Create Healthier Communities

Jody O. Early


Purpose: Photovoice is an innovative participatory action research method that uses photography to instigate social change. One of the goals is to promote critical dialogue among community members about barriers or resources that exist within a community which impact quality of life. While Photovoice is a method that has received notable attention in the recent literature, there is still a lack of understanding about what it is and how it can be applied in the field of public health. The purpose of this presentation is to demonstrate how Photovoice can be used locally and globally to build healthier communities. Three case studies will be shared. Methods and Results: Each case study utilized Photovoice to capture the ecological factors impacting a specific health issue. Participants in these case studies were actively engaged in Photovoice methods and the research process. After training and data collection, participants discussed their photographs in in-depth interviews with the study's primary researcher. Data analysis for each case study included an evaluation of interview transcripts using the constant-comparative method to identify the significant themes that emerged. The participants in each case study identified a number of impeding factors to health and each group of participants created an action plan to combat these challenges. Conclusion/Recommendations: Lessons learned from each case study provide public health professionals with strategies and suggestions for developing and implementing action plans to initiate social change. Each case provides valuable insights on how to engage communities to improve health and quality of life locally and globally. Learning Areas: Advocacy for health and health education; Assessment of individual and community needs for health education; Diversity and culture; Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs; Public health or related research. Learning Objectives: 1. List three benefits of using Photovoice as a community participatory strategy in a variety of community settings, both locally and globally. 2. Describe best practices for using Photovoice. 3. Formulate an action plan with community participants after using Photovoice to initiate social change.