The Health Embassy: Resident benefits of citizen science in a low SES Dutch neighbourhood

L. den Broeder, K. Kauw, S. Uysal, M. Schonenberger, S. Kwakkelstein-Klooster, M. Schoenmakers, W. Scharwachter, A. J. Schuit, A. Wagemakers

Research output: Contribution to journalMeeting AbstractScientificpeer-review

Abstract

Background

Slotermeer is a disadvantaged neighbourhood in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Local policy makers want to collect information about resident views as a basis for health enhancing policies. A Citizen Science approach where residents interview people in the neighbourhood was applied to collect such information. But how does this approach affect these residents themselves?

Methods

Two subsequent groups of residents (n = 34), the so-called Health Ambassadors, were trained. They interviewed fellow residents about health and a healthy local environment. All filled in pre and post project questionnaires measuring how they rate neighbourhood health, as well as their health literacy and sense of coherence. Also, pre and post project focus groups and individual interviews were carried out. Verbatim transcripts were analysed with qualitative data analysis software.

Results

Preliminary results show that the Health Ambassadors rated neighbourhood health more positively after the project. Self reported knowledge and skills, in particular regarding health, were increased and personal social networks extended. Health Ambassadors developed a sense of urgency to continue working on improving neighbourhood health and have also put this to practice in various activities.

Conclusions

Participating in Citizen Science yields personal empowerment for residents of a low-SES neighbourhood. It stimulates them to further engage in health enhancing activities. These benefits resemble those found for other types of Citizen Science projects. The Citizen Science approach poses new opportunities for the practice of community based health promotion in low SES settings, both as a tool to empower residents and as a way to identify and better link up to community needs and concerns.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages2
JournalEuropean Journal of Public Health
Volume26
Issue numbersuppl 1
Publication statusPublished - 2016
Externally publishedYes

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