perceptions of health, wellness, participatory action research, children
This study gives children an ‘active voice’ in illustrating their own emotions, thoughts and beliefs regarding their perceptions of health and wellness. ‘Draw and write’1 has become “widely used by practitioners and researchers to ‘start where children are’ in their understanding of health and health-related behaviours”2.
Aims & objectives
To explore children’s own perceptions of health and wellness.
Data was gathered by means of a participatory action research (PAR) approaches utilising various data collection methods including the ‘Draw-and-Write’ technique1 to explore children’s perceptions of health and wellness. The sample included 28 primary school students with a mean age of 10.14 years.
Data was analysed using Braun & Clarkes’ 6 Step Thematic Analysis Framework3. The thematic analysis derived a range of key categories and themes that emerged in relation to children’s perceptions of health and wellness. These included; healthy eating, physical activity, sleep and rest, mental health, body composition and personal achievements.
Some results were similar to previous relevant research studies exploring children’s perceptions of health and wellness (4,5) this was particularly evident around the themes of healthy eating, physical activity and mental health. However, concepts underpinning health are abstract and complex. “It is easy to assume that young children know little about health, or that what they know is ‘wrong’ “2. The results of this study are insightful as the children involved were given an ‘active voice’ into illustrating their own emotions, thoughts and beliefs towards health and wellness.
(*Abstract total word count: 243 words)
1. Wetton, N. M. & McWhirter, J.M. (1998) “Image Based Research and Curriculum Development in Health Education.” In Image Based Research – A Source Book for Qualitative Researchers, Ed., Prosser, D. 263–283. London: Falmer Press.
2. McWhirter, J. (2014) The draw and write technique as a versatile tool for researching children's understanding of health and well-being, International Journal of Health Promotion and Education, 52:5, 250-259, DOI: 10.1080/14635240.2014.912123
3. Braun, V., & Clarke, V. (2006). Using thematic analysis in psychology. Qualitative Research in Psychology, 3(2), 77–101. https://doi.org/10.1191/1478088706qp063oa
4. Piko, BF, Bak, J (2006) Children’s perceptions of health and illness: Images and lay concepts in preadolescence. Education Research 21(5): 643–653.
5. Mouratidi P-S, Bonoti F, Leondari A. Children’s perceptions of illness and health: An analysis of drawings. Health Education Journal. 2016;75(4):434-447. doi:10.1177/0017896915599416