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Am J Public Health. 2014 Sep;104(9):1606-14. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2013.301310. Epub 2013 Aug 15.

A situated practice of ethics for participatory visual and digital methods in public health research and practice: a focus on digital storytelling.

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Aline C. Gubrium is with the Department of Public Health, School of Public Health and Health Sciences, University of Massachusetts Amherst. Amy L. Hill is with Silence Speaks, Center for Digital Storytelling, Berkeley, CA. Sarah Flicker is with the Department of Environmental Studies, York University, Toronto, Ontario.


This article explores ethical considerations related to participatory visual and digital methods for public health research and practice, through the lens of an approach known as "digital storytelling." We begin by briefly describing the digital storytelling process and its applications to public health research and practice. Next, we explore 6 common challenges: fuzzy boundaries, recruitment and consent to participate, power of shaping, representation and harm, confidentiality, and release of materials. We discuss their complexities and offer some considerations for ethical practice. We hope this article serves as a catalyst for expanded dialogue about the need for high standards of integrity and a situated practice of ethics wherein researchers and practitioners reflexively consider ethical decision-making as part of the ongoing work of public health.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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