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BACKGROUND: Creative arts practice can enhance the depth and quality of mental health research by capturing and foregrounding participants' lived experience. Creative methods are emotionally activating and promote multiple perspectives, tolerating ambiguities and uncertainties, which are shared and even celebrated. KEY ARGUMENTS: Methods such as photovoice use imagery to elucidate narratives that are not easily captured by more traditional interview-based research techniques. However, the use of creative methods and participatory research remains novel as there is little guidance of how to navigate conceptual, practical, and analytical challenges. CONCLUSION: This paper considers these challenges, and puts forward practical and theory informed recommendations, using as study of photovoice methods for investigating ethnic inequalities in the use of the mental health act (Co-Pact) as a case study.

Original publication




Journal article


BMJ Open

Publication Date





mental health, psychiatry, qualitative research