This study reports on a health promotion intervention (HPI), where graphic facilitation (GF) was used as an innovative method to enable participation in a co-design process in a multi-ethnic and disadvantaged neighbourhood in Denmark. The aim was to enable middle-aged and older residents to participate in the research process of planning and evaluating the HPI, as well as in the activities it constituted. GF was used to document statements and inputs from residents through visual meeting minutes and resident experiences with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) lockdown were drawn by a graphic facilitator. We use the ladder of participation as a framework to unfold the participation enabled by GF. During the HPI, data were produced through ethnographic field studies in and outside the neighbourhood and in design workshops with residents. The study finds that GF helped in reaching a target group difficult to engage in research and that the engagement of a graphic facilitator shifted the power-balance between the researchers and the residents, redistributing expertise. Carrying out GF in a HPI is a collaborative endeavour and in addition to research competences, it requires the artistic and relational skills of a graphic facilitator. The co-created process of the visual minutes and COVID-19 experiences created a sense of ownership and encouraged the residents to reflect on their interaction with the researchers. The redistribution of expertise was conditioned by the power dynamics present and GF helped unfold these dynamics. This is especially important in an HPI engaging socio-economically vulnerable populations.

This study reports on graphic facilitation as an innovative method to enable participation in health promotion interventions. It investigates how engagement from the target group was achieved. The study is set in an ethnically diverse and disadvantaged neighbourhood. Residents 45 years+ were invited to participate in two phases of HPI activities. In Phase I, a resident committee planned and evaluated four social outings aiming to build and strengthen social relations among the residents. A graphic facilitator was part of the process, visually documenting the residents’ inputs and facilitating a transparent and visual engagement process. In Phase II, seven residents participated in interviews about their experiences during coronavirus disease 2019 lockdown. The graphic facilitator transformed the interviews into an illustrative book communicating their experiences, and posters communicating expedient health behaviour during the pandemic. The graphic facilitation method made it possible to engage a heterogeneous group of residents and helped overcome language barriers. We conclude that it is a relevant method to use when engaging people unfamiliar to research and in risk of suffering from various health problems. The method is suitable for redistributing power and actively including everyday experiences as testimonies of expertise, thereby creating a sense of ownership among the participants.

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