Photovoice: a review of the literature in health and public health

Health Educ Behav. 2010 Jun;37(3):424-51. doi: 10.1177/1090198109342084. Epub 2009 Oct 1.


Although a growing number of projects have been implemented using the community-based participatory research method known as photovoice, no known systematic review of the literature on this approach has been conducted to date. This review draws on the peer-reviewed literature on photovoice in public health and related disciplines conducted before January 2008 to determine (a) what defines the photovoice process, (b) the outcomes associated with photovoice, and (c) how the level of community participation is related to photovoice processes and outcomes. In all, 37 unduplicated articles were identified and reviewed using a descriptive coding scheme and Viswanathan et al.'s quality of participation tool. Findings reveal no relationship between group size and quality of participation but a direct relationship between the latter and project duration as well as with getting to action. More participatory projects also were associated with long-standing relationships between the community and outside researcher partners and an intensive training component. Although vague descriptions of project evaluation practices and a lack of consistent reporting precluded hard conclusions, 60% of projects reported an action component. Particularly among highly participatory projects, photovoice appears to contribute to an enhanced understanding of community assets and needs and to empowerment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Community Health Services*
  • Community Participation
  • Community-Based Participatory Research*
  • Health Education*
  • Health Policy
  • Health Promotion
  • Humans
  • Outcome and Process Assessment, Health Care
  • Photography
  • Public Health*