Lea Den Broeder,1,2 Jeroen Devilee,1 Hans Van Oers,1,3 A Jantine Schuit,1,4 and Annemarie Wagemakers5
Oxford Journals, Health Promotion International Via PubMed Central® (PMC)
Year of publication : 2016
The aim of this paper is to explore the value of Citizen Science in public health. We begin by describing approaches in Citizen Science; discuss challenges for Citizen Science application in public health research; discuss how Citizen Science could promote better citizen engagement in public health policies and better health; and finally provide an evaluation framework.
Community engagement in public health policy is easier said than done. One reason is that public health policy is produced in a complex process resulting in policies that may appear not to link up to citizen perspectives. We therefore address the central question as to whether citizen engagement in knowledge production could enable inclusive health policy making. Building on non-health work fields, we describe different types of citizen engagement in scientific research, or ‘Citizen Science’. We describe the challenges that Citizen Science poses for public health, and how these could be addressed. Despite these challenges, we expect that Citizen Science or similar approaches such as participatory action research and ‘popular epidemiology’ may yield better knowledge, empowered communities, and improved community health. We provide a draft framework to enable evaluation of Citizen Science in practice, consisting of a descriptive typology of different kinds of Citizen Science and a causal framework that shows how Citizen Science in public health might benefit both the knowledge produced as well as the ‘Citizen Scientists’ as active participants.