Cultural animation in health research:An innovative methodology for patient and public involvement and engagement

Abstract

Background A significant challenge in Patient and Public Involvement and Engagement (PPIE) in health research is to include a wide range of opinions and experiences, including from those who repeatedly find themselves at the margins of society. Objective To contribute to the debate around PPIE by introducing a bottom‐up methodology: cultural animation (CA). Cultural Animation is an arts‐based methodology of knowledge co‐production and community engagement which employs a variety of creative and participatory exercises to help build trusting relationships between diverse participants (expert and non‐experts) and democratize the process of research. Design Three CA full‐day workshops for the research project “A Picture of Health.” Participants Each workshop was attended by 20‐25 participants including 4 academics, 5 retired health professionals who volunteered in the local community and 15 community members. Participants ranged in age from 25 to 75 years, and 80% of the participants were women over the age of 60. Results The CA workshops unearthed a diversity of hidden assets, increased human connectivity, led to rethinking of and co‐creating new health indicators and enabled participants to think of community health in a positive way and to consider what can be developed. Discussion Cultural animation encourages participants to imagine and create ideal pictures of health by experimenting with new ways of working together. Conclusion We conclude by highlighting the main advantages to PPIE as follows: CA provides a route to co‐produce research agendas, empowers the public to engage actively with health professionals and make a positive contribution to their community

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