A case study evaluation of policy- and practice-led citizen science in prevention
Dr Yvonne Laird delivered this presentation on citizen science in prevention at the Public Health Association of Australia’s (PHAA’s) annual prevention conference in Brisbane, 11-13 May 2022.
Citizen science approaches are increasingly gaining traction in prevention as a means to engage the public and research and decision-making. However, the use of these approaches has predominantly been researcher-led, with little attention to the potential for policy- and practice-led citizen science approaches. This study explored the feasibility and impacts of four stakeholder led citizen science projects in prevention.
In-depth semi-structured interviews were conducted with stakeholders (n=7) from Australian health promotion agencies who are leading the citizen science projects, and their implementation partners (e.g. academic researchers, local council officers, n=11) at baseline and on completion of the citizen science projects. Interviews explored experiences of developing and implementing the projects and perceived impacts. Interviews were audio-recorded, and transcripts were analysed inductively using thematic analysis.
Primary motivators to use citizen science within their work included the potential to engage with diverse communities, generate new evidence and advocacy to support policy and practice change, and to test the feasibility and utility of citizen science approaches to address the needs of their organisations. Factors identified as supporting the implementation of these approaches in practice included organisational readiness, high-level support, capacity and expertise, while identified implementation challenges related to recruitment of citizen scientists, COVID-19 and ethical issues such as renumeration of citizen scientists. Reflections on the early impacts of these projects were also discussed.
Insights from this study are being communicated back to project stakeholders on an ongoing basis and will guide capacity building activities and development of resources to support policymakers and practitioners to apply citizen science approaches in their work.