Participatory Co-Design of Science Communication Strategies for Public Engagement in the US and Ecuador around Health Behavior Change

strong>Author: Denisse Vasquez-Guevara – University of Cuenca, Ecuador


  • Judith McIntosh White – University of New Mexico, United States
  • David Weiss – University of New Mexico, United States

This multiple case study was developed through analyzing two research programs that promote healthy nutrition and physical activity habits for children – one in the US and one in Ecuador- to motivate public engagement and collaboration among researchers and their publics. The outcomes of this study provide several guidelines for science communication practitioners and researchers that seek to work with young audiences.

The methodological design combined participatory action research, qualitative research, decolonial epistemologies, and an analytical framework using a combination of media theories (two-step flow, framing, and medium theory). This research design enabled the collaboration of researchers and their publics to co-design science communication strategies focused on adopting healthy habits.


In the US, the results indicated the importance of taking into consideration the relationships among cultural, economic, and environmental factors that come into play for children and their families when proposing new engagement activities and resources. Consequently, the newly-designed science communication strategies proposed peer health education and informational resources through social media. Additional strategies were geared toward facilitating access to healthy food by developing vegetable gardens and pantries in schools.

In Ecuador, the results evidenced the need to provide a more interactive approach through online resources and offline outdoor activities that promote dialogue among researchers and their publics. These findings led to co-designing an app, developing social media resources, and creating informal events that unite families around physical activity.


This study provides methodological guidelines for science communication for public engagement conducted through participatory action research. Moreover, it provides procedural recommendations for building trust among researchers and their audiences; and using participatory data collection tools to co-design science communication strategies, messages, content, and selecting appropriate communication conduits/formats to motivate audience engagement.

The author has not yet submitted a copy of the full paper.

Presentation type: Individual paper
Theme: Transformation