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A qualitative study using photo-elicitation to explore the experiences of families at burn camp

Armstrong-James, L; Cadogan, J; Williamson, H; Rumsey, N; Harcourt, D


Laura O'Brien
Occasional Associate Lecturer - HAS HSS

J Cadogan

Heidi Williamson
Associate Professor in Applied Health Research

Diana Harcourt
Professor in Appearance Research


Aims: To use photo-elicitation to explore the experiences of children with a burn injury and their families attending a family burn camp.

Introduction: Burns camps aim to provide children with a fun and supportive environment, in which they carry out activities designed to help them deal with the challenges of a burn injury. Although the majority of camps do not offer specific psychological interventions they provide children with a number of positive experiences, such as making new friends and learning new skills, and it is believed that camps can offer many psychosocial benefits. Research in this area has, so far, produced equivocal results, focusing mostly on the experiences of the young person with the burn injury at camp whilst the perspective of the whole family has not been examined. This qualitative study employed photo-elicitation techniques in order to overcome the challenge of engaging young people in burns research. Photo-elicitation involves the use of photographs as a guide during interviews, and is thought to elicit rich and meaningful data from participants. It has been successfully used to evaluate outdoor activity programmes in previous research with young people but until now has not been used in burns research.

Method: Six families who had been invited to attend a weekend-long family camp participated in the study. On the first day of camp each family was given a camera and asked to take photographs of their time at camp, as if they were planning to show them to their friends on Facebook. On the final day of camp, cameras were collected and the photographs were developed. Each family was sent a copy of their photographs prior to a semi-structured interview taking place to discuss the photographs and their experiences of camp. Participants took an average of 21 photographs over the weekend, and were asked to select around 8-10 salient photographs to discuss during the interview.

Results: Interviews were transcribed verbatim and analysed using thematic analysis. Three main themes were revealed, relating to the chance to spend time together as a family, a forum for trying out activities the family would not normally consider, and the opportunity to meet other families who had been through a similar experience.

Discussion: This is the first time that a specific family burn camp has been evaluated, using photo-elicitation techniques. The study discovered that photo-elicitation is an effective method for engaging young people and their families in burns research. The photographs acted as a prompt for discussion within the interviews and helped the families to recall their experiences.

Conclusion: A family burn camp can offer support and benefit to the family as a whole, especially through the opportunity to meet others who have been through a similar experience.


Armstrong-James, L., Cadogan, J., Williamson, H., Rumsey, N., & Harcourt, D. A qualitative study using photo-elicitation to explore the experiences of families at burn camp

Presentation Conference Type Poster
Acceptance Date Apr 7, 2014
Peer Reviewed Not Peer Reviewed
Public URL
Additional Information Title of Conference or Conference Proceedings : British Burn Association Annual Meeting 2014