Practical guidance and ethical considerations for studies using photo-elicitation interviews

Prev Chronic Dis. 2014 Oct 30;11:E189. doi: 10.5888/pcd11.140216.


Photo-elicitation is a qualitative interviewing technique that has gained popularity in recent years. It is the foundation for photovoice projects and is a tool well-suited for community-based participatory research. Photo-elicitation yields rich data, and interview participants say these interviews encourage community awareness and engagement. This article draws on 9 studies, conducted by researchers at 3 institutions (the University of Pennsylvania, the Philadelphia Veterans Affairs Medical Center, and the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth) in partnership with community-based organizations and students, in which 303 participants completed photo-elicitation interviews. We offer 8 practical suggestions for overcoming challenges encountered during photo-elicitation research and for managing ethical concerns about the use of visual data in public health research. Our guidelines can inform study design, protocol development, and institutional review board approval.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic / methods*
  • Photography*
  • Research Design / standards*