Society for Social Work and Research

Sixteenth Annual Conference Research That Makes A Difference: Advancing Practice and Shaping Public Policy
11-15 January 2012 I Grand Hyatt Washington I Washington, DC

115 Innovative Methods In Community Based Research: Using Photovoice to Make a Difference In the Lives of Residents

Saturday, January 14, 2012: 10:00 AM-11:45 AM
Independence E (Grand Hyatt Washington)
Cluster: Research Design and Measurement
Symposium Organizer:
Mary L. Ohmer, PhD, Georgia State University
Community based researchers use participatory methods to engage residents in designing, implementing and using research to facilitate individual, organizational, and community change (Coulton, 2005; Israel, Schulz, Parker, & Becker, 1998). Photovoice is a participatory method popular for its inclusive nature and adaptability with culturally diverse groups. Visual images produced by residents are used to reveal authentic neighborhood states and stimulate the community's voice. Photovoice has been used to promote intergenerational community engagement, social identity and community change.

Photovoice empowers community members to use cameras to record their specific community concerns and share their knowledge with a larger audience to initiate change (Wang, 2006). Partnerships between community members and researchers integrate community awareness and action based on the lived experiences of residents (Hergenrather, Rhodes, & Bardhoshi, 2009). This symposium will present three community based research studies that used photovoice to engage residents in addressing a range of issues, including residential transitions, crime and violence, and community health and wellbeing.

The first presenter will discuss the use of photovoice with older African American adults at an assisted living facility. Using the ORID technique for facilitating focus group discussion (Valera, Gallin, Schuk, & Davis, 2009), participants were asked to Observe, Reflect on, and Interpret photographic images of their residential environment before Deciding on possible solutions to an identified concern. Residents presented suggested programmatic enhancements to facility administrators. This presentation will demonstrate how photovoice can be used to build social engagement and advocacy among aging residents and to identify salient aspects of a “home” environment for older adults who have transitioned to congregate living.

The second presenter will discuss how photovoice was used as part of a community research project focused on facilitating collective efficacy, which has been associated with lower levels of neighborhood crime and violence (Morenoff, Sampson, & Raudenbush, 2001; Sampson, Raudenbush & Earls, 1997). Youth and adults used cameras to identify community norms and how those norms contributed to or helped alleviate crime and violence in their neighborhoods. The results were presented to community stakeholders during the last session of the training and used by participants to develop a community crime prevention project in their neighborhood.

The third presenter will discuss an innovative method for engaging non-photovoice participants in the dissemination of photovoice artwork. This approach parallels the “SHOWED” method for engaging photovoice participants in critical reflection of their situation and the construction of visual and written narratives to convey these insights (Wang & Burris, 1994). Accordingly, the proposed “LENS” method of engagement includes four guiding questions to facilitate critical reflection among non-photovoice participants. This presentation will feature the results of LENS analyses completed by 170 viewers of a museum exhibit that featured photovoice artwork created by public housing residents.

This symposium demonstrates how a unique community based research method can make a difference in the lives of youth and adults faced with difficult issues. The papers presented illustrate how photovoice can be easily incorporated into community based research to empower residents and build their capacity to create healthy communities.

* noted as presenting author
Exploring “Home” At An Assisted Living Facility: Looking Through Residents' Lenses with Photovoice
Terri Lewinson, Georgia State University; Vanessa Robinson-Dooley, Kennesaw State University
Using Photovoice to Empower Youth and Adult Residents to Prevent Crime and Violence
Mary L. Ohmer, PhD, Georgia State University; Jennifer Owens, MSW, Georgia State University
LENS: A Strategy for Disseminating Photovoice Artwork
Darcy Freedman, PhD, University of South Carolina; Ronald Pitner, PhD, University of South Carolina; Rhonda L. White-Johnson, PhD, University of South Carolina; Shanna Hastie, LMSW, University of South Carolina
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