Using Photovoice as a Participatory Evaluation Tool in Kaiser Permanente’s Community Health Initiative

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Photovoice is a community-based participatory research method that provides participants who traditionally have little voice in community policy decisions, with training in photography, ethics, critical dialogue, photo captioning, and policy advocacy. Photovoice has been used primarily as a needs assessment and advocacy tool and only rarely as a pre-/postintervention evaluation method. This article describes the use of Photovoice as a participatory evaluation method in the Community Health Initiative, a 6-year, multisite community-based obesity prevention initiative, sponsored by Kaiser Permanente. Fifty community participants (including six youth) from six Community Health Initiative communities used photos and captions to identify, from their perspective, the most significant accomplishments from the initiative at both baseline and follow-up. Accomplishments identified included increased access to fresh/healthy food in local neighborhoods; policy changes supporting a “healthy eating, active living” community; increased access to physical activity; changes to the built environment creating increased neighborhood walkability/safety; and leadership development.

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