Photovoice as a Participatory Assessment Approach for Examining Disparities in Obesity for African American Teen Girls

By Shannon McMorrow and Shannon Smith.

Published by The International Journal of Health, Wellness and Society

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Published Online: September 29, 2016 $US5.00

Photovoice has been utilized in health promotion worldwide. However, it has rarely been applied to examine health disparities in obesity with even more limited use for understanding disparities in obesity for African American teen girls in the United States. Therefore, this project had dual aims of piloting Photovoice as a participatory, formative assessment tool for obesity prevention with African American girls and of better understanding the socio-cultural contexts of participants related to obesity. A community-based, participatory project was conducted in a predominantly African American community in urban Michigan, USA. Participants were guided through an intensive process to complete their Photovoice mission “to take photographs in their homes, schools, and communities” that they felt influenced obesity. Captions were developed for a sub-sample of twelve photographs and were systematically examined using qualitative content analysis. Three major themes emerged including “context and availability of food,” “context of physical activity,” and “assets and priority needs for obesity prevention.” Results suggest use of a modified Photovoice approach as a promising method of conducting participatory, formative assessment for public health practitioners focusing on obesity prevention. Specifically, the assets theme suggests that utilization of Photovoice for asset assessment may be beneficial for improving socio-cultural tailoring of interventions and avoiding a deficit-based approach that often perpetuates health disparities.

Keywords: Photovoice, Health Disparities, African American Teen Girls, Obesity, Formative Assessment, Qualitative Research, Community-based Participatory Research

The International Journal of Health, Wellness and Society, Volume 6, Issue 3, September 2016, pp.77-85. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published Online: September 29, 2016 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 721.842KB)).

Dr. Shannon McMorrow

Assistant Professor of Public Health, School of Interdisciplinary Health Programs, Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo and Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA

Shannon Smith

Adjunct Professor and Health Science Clinical Coordinator, Department of Health Science, Saginaw Valley State University, Saginaw, Michigan, USA