Visual and participatory research techniques: Photo-elicitation and its potential to better inform public health about physical activity and eating behavior in underserved populations

Emerson Sebastião, Patricia Andrea Espinoza Gálvez, Julie L Bobitt, Brynn Clairisse Adamson, Andiara Schwingel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Aim A healthier America depends on the development of strategies and interventions that are inclusive of and attentive to the needs of at-risk groups. This commentary seeks to con-tribute to the discussion of such interventions by advocating for the use of photo-elicitation (PE) as a research tool that can enhance the impact of studies targeting health behaviors such as physical activity and diet. Subject and Methods This commentary discusses the extent to which PE may enhance the quality and outcomes of research studies that aim to understand health behavior in underserved groups. We describe some of the advantages and disadvan-tages of the application of PE in public health research. This analysis is timely because public health researchers and prac-titioners are currently engaged in efforts to better understand health behaviors in specific racial and ethnic groups in an attempt to mitigate health disparities. Results Participatory research techniques (PRTs) such as PE are promising tools for elucidating an individual’s knowledge and perceptions of his or her socio-cultural context. As a participant-centered method, it can directly benefit individuals and their communities. Within the behavioral health sciences, it has the potential to advance knowledge of the determinants of physical activity and healthy eating habits as well as of the enablers and deterrents of these key health behaviors. Conclusion The new insights that investigators can acquire by employing PRTs such as PE may help public health researchers to develop culturally sensitive strategies and culturally meaningful intervention programs that have a better chance of reaching and benefiting at-risk populations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-7
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Public Health (Germany)
Volume24
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 2016

Keywords

  • Health disparity
  • Health promotion
  • Minority groups
  • Photo-elicitation
  • Qualitative studies
  • Visual methods

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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