Participatory Visual Methodologies in Mental Health Promotion Research with Refugee Youth who have Experiences of Gender-based Violence: A Scoping Review

Researchers: Dillion Browne1, Busra Yalcinoz-Ucan1, Laura Zilney2
Whole Family Laboratory, University of Waterloo1, Hope 24/72
Research Partner: Hope 24/7
refugee youth, gender-based violence, wellbeing, participatory visual methodologies, knowledge production, mental health promotion, systematic review


Overview: This study examines the effectiveness of participatory visual methodologies (PVM) (i.e., digital storytelling, photovoice, participatory video, drawing) in mental health promotion research with refugee youth who have experiences of gender-based violence (GBV).

Objective: to analyze the existing empirical knowledge regarding how and in which ways PVM are effective as mental health research and promotion tools, and to provide an understanding of how their use can become complementary to traditional experimental approaches in mental health research.

Research Justification: Quantitative, experimental methodologies have long been prevalent in mental health research. While these inquiries are imperative for the advancement of evidence-based standardized practices, their widespread dominance limits community participation and engagement in research actions. Participatory visual methodologies (PVMs) facilitate collaborative knowledge production and dissemination and are considered beneficial to community empowerment and wellbeing. Despite this, the credibility of evidence produced in research based on participatory approaches is still contested. This study will provide essential outputs for designing effective community-engaged and survivor-focused forms of mental health support services for refugee youth with experiences of GBV.


The research team will conduct a systematic review to examine available studies using participatory visual methodologies (PVM) with refugee youth who have experiences of gender-based violence (GBV).

Research Questions:

  1. What forms of PVMs have been utilized in studies with refugee youth survivors of GBV?
  2. What are the documented research outcomes, especially in promoting community resilience and wellbeing? 
  3. What new skills and knowledge do refugee youth gain through the utilization of visual/digital methodologies? 
  4. What content is created through these methodologies, and how does this content help refugee survivors to transform their struggles into empowering narratives and find solutions? 
  5. How, and by whom, are research products (i.e., digital stories, photos, drawings, or movies) used and disseminated? 
  6. How do these documented dissemination activities benefit participants themselves and their communities?
  7. What are the implications of the conducted studies for community dialogue and policy changes?

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