Aim To reflect on the use of photo elicitation as a data collection method when conducting research with primary school age children (nine to 11 years).
Background There is recognition that children feel an affinity with the visual medium; as a result, visual methods can be useful when conducting research with children. Photo elicitation is one such method, but there has been little discussion of its use with primary school children within a health context. This paper considers the main issues that researchers should consider.
Data sources This paper draws on a research study conducted by the author that used an ethnographic approach and photo elicitation to identify the assets underpinning children’s wellbeing.
Review methods A reflective discussion is used to highlight issues relating to the use of photo elicitation to collect data from primary school children.
Discussion Photo elicitation is not without its challenges: it creates additional ethical considerations, and can be more time-consuming and expensive. However, children value the opportunity to be involved in research and have their opinions sought, and photo elicitation provides a method of collecting data that is appropriate for children’s developmental and cognitive maturational stages.
Conclusion Photo elicitation can be a positive experience for children, and one that is not only fun and engaging, but that is also empowering and valuing of their contributions.
Implications for research/practice Research that uses photo elicitation needs to be carefully planned to ensure that the study is supported appropriately. The visual process can offer a unique insight into children’s lives that allows health professionals to deepen their understanding of children’s experiences.