Pediatric Radiology

, Volume 40, Issue 3, pp 309–317 | Cite as

Developing participatory research in radiology: the use of a graffiti wall, cameras and a video box in a Scottish radiology department

  • Sandra A. MathersEmail author
  • Helen Anderson
  • Sheila McDonald
  • Rosemary A. Chesson
Original Article



Participatory research is increasingly advocated for use in health and health services research and has been defined as a ‘process of producing new knowledge by systematic enquiry, with the collaboration of those being studied’. The underlying philosophy of participatory research is that those recruited to studies are acknowledged as experts who are ‘empowered to truly participate and have their voices heard’. Research methods should enable children to express themselves. This has led to the development of creative approaches of working with children that offer alternatives to, for instance, the structured questioning of children by researchers either through questionnaires or interviews.


To examine the feasibility and potential of developing participatory methods in imaging research.

Materials and methods

We employed three innovative methods of data collection sequentially, namely the provision of: 1) a graffiti wall; 2) cameras, and 3) a video box for children’s use. While the graffiti wall was open to all who attended the department, for the other two methods children were allocated to each ‘arm’ consecutively until our target of 20 children for each was met.


The study demonstrated that it was feasible to use all three methods of data collection within the context of a busy radiology department. We encountered no complaints from staff, patients or parents. Children were willing to participate but we did not collect data to establish if they enjoyed the activities, were pleased to have the opportunity to make comments or whether anxieties about their treatment inhibited their participation. The data yield was disappointing. In particular, children’s contributions to the graffiti wall were limited, but did reflect the nature of graffiti, and there may have been some ‘copycat’ comments. Although data analysis was relatively straightforward, given the nature of the data (short comments and simple drawings), the process proved to be extremely time-consuming. This was despite the modest amount of data collected.


Novel methods of engaging with children have been shown to be feasible although further work is needed to establish their full potential.


X-ray departments Participatory research Innovative research methods Research with children Graffiti Video Children Cameras 



The authors wish to acknowledge funding from NHS Grampian (Endowments). We are grateful to the participants who took part and thank staff for their patience and support. We are also indebted to the staff of the University of Aberdeen’s department of medical illustration audio visual unit for their advice and assistance in developing and setting up the video box. In addition, we would like to thank Kodak who donated the single-use cameras.


  1. 1.
    Bourke L (2008) Reflections on doing participatory research in health: participation, method and power. Int J Soc Res Methodology. doi: 10.1080/13645570802373676 Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Alvarez A, Gutierrez L (2001) Choosing to do participatory research: an example and issues of fit to consider. J Community Pract 9:1–20CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Aldiss S, Horstman M, O’Leary C et al (2008) What is important to young children who have cancer while in hospital? Child Soc. doi: 10.1111/j.1099-0860.2008.00162.x Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Christensen P, James A (Eds) (2000) Research with children: perspectives and practices. Falmer, London, pp 120–135Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Coad J, Evans R (2008) Reflections on practical approaches to involving children and young people in data analysis process. Child Soc 22:41–52CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Clatworthy S, Simon K, Tiedman ME (1999) Child-drawing: hospital—an instrument designed to measure the emotional status of hospitilised school-aged children. J Pediatr Nurs 14:2–9CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Carney T, Murphy S, McClure J et al (2003) Children’s views of hospitalisation: an exploratory study of data collection. J Child Health Care 7:27–40CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Claveirole A (2004) Listening to young voices: challenges of research with adolescent metal health users. J Psychiatr Ment Health Nurs 11:253–260CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Chesson RA, Good M, Hart CL (2002) Will it hurt? Patients’ experience of X-ray examinations: a pilot study. Pediatr Radiol 32:67–73CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Mauthner M (1997) Methodological aspects of collecting data from children: lessons from three research projects. Child Soc 11:16–28CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Chesson R, Harding L, Hart C et al (1997) Do parents and children have common perceptions of admission, treatment, and outcome in a child psychiatric unit? Clin Child Psychol Psychiatry 2:251–270CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Joy D, Young A, Harvais V et al (1998) The use of photographs as a means of obtaining views of occupational therapy held by children with learning disabilities: a pilot study. Br J Occ Ther 61:116–120Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Hart C, Chesson R (1998) Children as consumers. Br Med J 316:1600–1603Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Medical Research Council (2004) MRC ethics guide: medical research involving children. MRC, LondonGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Kortesluoma RL, Hentinen M, Nikkonen M (2003) Conducting a qualitative child interview: methodological considerations. J Adv Nurs 42:434–441CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Polit DF, Beck CT, Hungler BP (2001) Essentials of nursing research: methods, appraisal and utilization, 5th edn. Lippincott, Williams and Wilkins, Philadelphia, p 236Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Fajerman L, Tresender P, Connor J (2004) Children are service users too. A guide to consulting children and young people. Save the Children, LondonGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    King P (1992) Talking pictures: triggered picture to help children talk about themselves. Association for Adoption and Fostership, LondonGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Chesson R, Murdoch C (2004) User, consumer, survivor, refuser. Evaluation report of the Scottish Mental Health Service User Conference, Report to Scottish Executive Involving People TeamGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Hinton S, Watson S, Chesson R et al (2002) Information needs of young people with cystic fibrosis. Paediatr Nurs 14:18–21PubMedGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Big Brother (UK) 2000 (Section Diary room) Last modified July 09: Accessed 2009
  22. 22.
    Miles MB, Hubermann AM (1994) Qualitative data analysis: an expanded source book, 2nd edn. Sage, Thousand OaksGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    Ritchie J, Lewis J (eds) (2003) Qualitative research practice: a guide for social science students and researchers. Sage, LondonGoogle Scholar
  24. 24.
    Heath C (2004) The analysis of activities in face-to-face interaction using video. In: Silverman D (ed) Qualitative research: theory, method, and practice. Sage, London, pp 183–200Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    Alderson P (2001) Research by children. Int J Res Methodol 4:139–153CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. 26.
    Thorton H, Edwards A, Elwyn G (2003) Evolving the multiple roles of ‘patients’ in health-care research; reflections after involvement in a trial of shared decision-making. Health Expect 6:189–197CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. 27.
    Action for Sick Children (2004) Accessed January 2009
  28. 28.
    Krahenbuhl S, Blades M (2006) The effect of interviewing techniques on young children’s responses to questions. Child Care Health Dev 32:321–331CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  29. 29.
    Cavet J, Sloper P (2004) The participation of children and young people in decisions about UK service development. Child Care Health Dev 30:613–621CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  30. 30.
    Royal College of Paediatricians and Child Health (2005) Coming out of the shadows: a strategy to promote participation of children and young people in RCPCH activity. RCPCH, LondonGoogle Scholar
  31. 31.
    Woodfield T (2001) Involving children in clinical audit. Paediatr Nurs 13:12–16PubMedGoogle Scholar
  32. 32.
    Moules T (2002) A case for involving children/young people in clinical audit. Br J Clin Governance 7:86–91CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. 33.
    Children’s and young people unit (2001) Learning to listen: core principles for involvement of children and young people. Department of Education and Skills, LondonGoogle Scholar
  34. 34.
    Department of Education and Skills (2003) Building a culture of participation: Involving children and young people in policy, service planning, delivery and evaluation. DfES, NottinghamGoogle Scholar
  35. 35.
    Ministry of Social Development of New Zealand (2003) Involving children in decision making. Accessed December 2006
  36. 36.
    Coad J, Lewis A (2004) Engaging children and young people in research: Literature review for the National Evaluation of the Children’s Fund. NECF, BirminghamGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sandra A. Mathers
    • 1
    • 5
    Email author
  • Helen Anderson
    • 2
  • Sheila McDonald
    • 3
  • Rosemary A. Chesson
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of RadiologyAberdeen Royal InfirmaryAberdeenUK
  2. 2.Department of RadiologyRoyal Aberdeen Children’s HospitalAberdeenUK
  3. 3.Royal Aberdeen Children’s HospitalAberdeenUK
  4. 4.School of Medicine and DentistryUniversity of AberdeenAberdeenUK
  5. 5.Faculty of Health and Social CareThe Robert Gordon UniversityAberdeenUK

Personalised recommendations