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The big picture of recovery: a systematic review on the evidence of photography-based methods in researching recovery from mental distress

Research output: Contribution to Journal/MagazineJournal articlepeer-review

E-pub ahead of print
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>30/11/2020
<mark>Journal</mark>Arts and Health
Publication StatusE-pub ahead of print
Early online date30/11/20
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Background: In the context of a growing body of literature on incorporating visual media in researching well-being and mental health, this systematic review examined the evidence of using photography-based research methods in exploring recovery from mental distress, their outcomes, but also limitations and challenges encountered by researchers. Methodology: Six cross-disciplinary electronic databases (CINAHL, MEDLINE, Web of Science, Scopus, PsycINFO, Arts & Humanities) were systematically searched resulting in a total of 15 qualitative and mixed-methods studies included in a thematic synthesis. Results: Photo-elicitation and photovoice were identified as the main photographic methods employed in recovery research along with less common, but nonetheless creative, techniques. Four key themes were identified through thematic analysis in photography-based recovery studies: enhanced understanding, collaboration and empowerment, situatedness, and storytelling. The results of this review revealed photography as a valuable methodological tool with potential to contribute to conceptualising recovery from the stance of research participants, but also facilitate and support their recovery processes. Conclusions: Recovery research can benefit from the use of photographic methods that are widely accessible, versatile, and interactive. They may offer mental health researchers alternative ways to explore individuals’ perspective on recovery in ways that are creative, empowering, and supportive of their recovery.