Psychology Ph.D. Dissertations


Youth Views of Neighborhood Needs: A Photovoice Collaboration

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)



First Advisor

Catherine Stein

Second Advisor

Carolyn Tompsett

Third Advisor

David Hampton (Other)

Fourth Advisor

Dara Musher-Eizenman (Committee Member)


Neighborhoods shape the daily experiences of residents, and in turn, neighborhood environments are shaped by residents. Despite evidence that neighborhoods influence residents of all ages, youth perspectives are often not valued, and youth input is largely excluded from intervention planning and decision-making. The present study used Photovoice to engage youth in an assessment of their urban neighborhoods in Toledo, Ohio. Nine adolescents (16 – 20 years old) from an economically-distressed neighborhood in Toledo participated in the project. Participants were included in collecting and analyzing data and disseminating findings to the community. During the six week Photovoice project, participants were asked to take photographs that reflected important aspects of their daily lives and attend weekly sessions to share photos and engage in group discussion. During the sessions, the participants and researcher analyzed the photographic data using Participatory Visual Analysis (Wang & Burris, 1997). Participants hosted a public event to display their photos at the conclusion of the project. To describe participants’ experiences, content analysis was used to identify themes discussed across Photovoice sessions. Ten themes emerged from participants’ photos, descriptions, and group discussions. Themes reflected three primary aspects of participants’ experiences: adolescence, neighborhood environment, and their social roles. Youth completed individual interviews to assess their views of project participation. Results of content analysis suggest that youth perceived numerous benefits of participation that included increased environmental awareness, social connections, efficacy, and communication. Overall, youth’s photographs and discussions illustrated the dynamic and varied ways in which youth interact with their neighborhoods. The present study highlights ways that participation in multiple aspects of the research process can empower youth to think critically and address issues in their own community.