Combining Photovoice and focus groups: engaging Latina teens in community assessment

Am J Prev Med. 2013 Mar;44(3 Suppl 3):S215-24. doi: 10.1016/j.amepre.2012.11.011.


Background: Latino adolescents, especially girls, experience higher obesity rates and are more likely to be physically unfit than non-Latino white peers. Out-of-school programs to increase physical activity and fitness in older Latino teens are critical, but sustained engagement is challenging.

Purpose: This study combined a community-based participatory research methodology, Photovoice, with focus groups to engage Latina teens and their parents in identifying barriers to physical activity and initiating policy change actions to address them. The study investigates the effectiveness of applying Photovoice as both an evaluation tool and a leadership/advocacy intervention in a community-based obesity prevention program.

Design: Focus group data were collected between July 2009 and October 2010 and analyzed between November 2010 and July 2011. Five focus groups were held with adults (n = 41: 95% Latino) and four with teens (n = 36: 81% Latino, 10% non-Hispanic white, 9% African-American).

Setting/participants: All participants (19 teens, six adults) were Latino. Spanish-speaking staff of a community-based agency, program staff, high school guidance counselors, and a job development agency recruited participants. Teens aged 14-19 years enrolled in New Britain CT, high schools, and their parents were eligible.

Main outcome measures: Data from Photovoice workshops (three with teens, two with parent-teen dyads) were collected and concurrently analyzed between July 2009 and August 2011.

Results: Teens criticized school-based physical exercise programs in favor of out-of-school exercise and career advice. Parental restrictions and work, transportation, and safety issues were cited as barriers to afterschool physical activity programs.

Conclusions: Photovoice can empower teens and parents to address exercise barriers by promoting advocacy that leads to policy change (e.g., an out-of-school physical education option).

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Awareness
  • Community-Based Participatory Research
  • Culture
  • Environment
  • Exercise*
  • Female
  • Focus Groups
  • Health Promotion / organization & administration*
  • Hispanic Americans*
  • Humans
  • Obesity / ethnology*
  • Obesity / prevention & control*
  • Photography
  • Safety
  • Sex Factors
  • Transportation