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Youth researching youth: benefits, limitations and ethical considerations within a participatory research process

Author(s): Cynthia G. Jardine | Angela James

Journal: International Journal of Circumpolar Health
ISSN 1239-9736

Volume: 71;
Start page: 1;
Date: 2012;
Original page

Keywords: youth | participatory research | northern Canada | Aboriginal | First Nations | PhotoVoice | tobacco

Objectives. To examine the benefits, limitations and ethical issues associated with conducting participatory research on tobacco use using youth to research other youth. Study design. Community-based participatory research. Methods. Research on tobacco use was conducted with students in the K’àlemì Dene School and Kaw Tay Whee School in the Northwest Territories, Canada, using PhotoVoice. The Grade 9–12 students acted as researchers. Researcher reflections and observations were assessed using “member checking,” whereby students, teachers and community partners could agree or disagree with the researcher's interpretation. The students and teachers were further asked informally to share their own reflections and observations on this process. Results and conclusions. Using youth to research other youth within a participatory research framework had many benefits for the quality of the research, the youth researchers and the community. The research was perceived by the researchers and participants to be more valid and credible. The approach was more appropriate for the students, and the youth researchers gained valuable research experience and a sense of ownership of both the research process and results. Viewing smoking through their children's eyes was seen by the community to be a powerful and effective means of creating awareness of the community environment. Limitations of the approach were residual response bias of participants, the short period of time to conduct the research and failure to fully explore student motivations to smoke or not to smoke. Ethical considerations included conducting research with minors, difficulties in obtaining written parental consent, decisions on cameras (disposable versus digital) and representation of all participants in the final research product.

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