The Value of Using Photos

Living Well uses photos of common situations to start conversations between people with hearing loss and their hearing care professionals. Clients identify their challenges and priorities by choosing photos that resonate with their lives. When using the online version of Living Well, people with hearing loss can also upload their own photos to represent the communication situations that are most important to them.

Using visuals as a basis for conversation is an efficient way of understanding people’s personal experiences and perception of health challenges. The visuals help them articulate their needs more clearly and have the additional advantage of aiding recall; clients are more likely to remember a communication situation when shown a visual rather than having to simply remember the details on their own.

Living Well takes a similar approach to research methods such as photovoice and photo elicitation, which also use photos as a technique for gathering information about what matters to people in their daily lives and ensuring that their concerns and priorities are being heard. In both Living Well and photovoice/elicitation, images are used to assess needs, find and solve challenges, and make longer term strategies. In a Veterans’ Affairs (VA) setting, a study concluded that using the photovoice technique “was effective in improving patient-provider communication and patient engagement.”

Living Well comes with tool-specific documentation forms, making it easy to record what photos a client has chosen, as well as their priorities, challenges, and any strategies and goals you have agreed upon. If your client completes the online version of Living Well, you will have a print out or emailed copy of the tool to add to your client’s files, making it easy to refer back to previous images and conversations when discussing their progress.

For more examples of how photos are used to gather information and involve people in important health decisions see Further Than the Eye Can See and Design Research Techniques on Photovoice.