Through Their Eyes: Lessons Learned Using Participatory Methods in Health Care Quality Improvement Projects

Qual Health Res. 2016 Aug;26(10):1382-92. doi: 10.1177/1049732315618386. Epub 2015 Dec 14.


In this methodological article, we examine participatory methods in depth to demonstrate how these methods can be adopted for quality improvement (QI) projects in health care. We draw on existing literature and our QI initiatives in the Department of Veterans Affairs to discuss the application of photovoice and guided tours in QI efforts. We highlight lessons learned and several benefits of using participatory methods in this area. Using participatory methods, evaluators can engage patients, providers, and other stakeholders as partners to enhance care. Participant involvement helps yield actionable data that can be translated into improved care practices. Use of these methods also helps generate key insights to inform improvements that truly resonate with stakeholders. Using participatory methods is a valuable strategy to harness participant engagement and drive improvements that address individual needs. In applying these innovative methodologies, evaluators can transcend traditional approaches to uniquely support evaluations and improvements in health care.

Keywords: United States; guided tours; health care; participatory action research (PAR); photography; photovoice; qualitative.

MeSH terms

  • Data Collection
  • Delivery of Health Care
  • Humans
  • Photography
  • Quality Improvement*