Photographing Heath by Rural Adolescents in the Midwest


Project Dates: 2020-2021

Young people play an important role in shaping family and community health. However, researchers rarely consider children’s perspectives and their agency in intervention design or during the implementation process and, when they do, children’s input is often tokenized. Children’s and adult’s influence on one another is bidirectional and is interdependent, particularly in household settings. This interdependence and bi-directionality impacts the implementation of programs and policies directed at both child health and adult health.

Because childhoods are cross-culturally diverse, young people’s roles and relationships in their households and communities are not universal (e.g., sociologists discuss rural childhoods as distinct). That is, young people act within the multi-level contexts and socio-ecological environments in which they live, and they do so in ways that shape health and health interventions in these contexts. This premise makes young people’s participation in implementation science necessary and complements implementation science focus on stakeholder input as critical for tailoring interventions to fit the context.

Project Goals:

  • To examine and clarify young people’s health agency in their families in a rural setting from their perspectives and experiences.
  • To identify young people’s health priorities and disseminate these priorities to people and organizations in positions of power.

Implications for Research and Practice:

The project seeks to identify how young people’s participation in IS research might improve the feasibility and appropriateness of interventions. However, most methods used in the health and social sciences are adult centric (i.e., designed by and for adults) and often exclude the meaningful participation of children, especially children who are subject to injustices because they are rural, poor, and/or racial and ethnic minorities. We also seek to examine rural child participation in health and children’s perspectives on health priorities.

Project Contact: Jean Hunleth, PhD, MPH

Project Staff: Eric Wiedenman PhD, MPH, Nick Weshinskey, PhD