Participatory design

Involve your users

Participatory Design is a research metode that has proven particularly suitable for health scientific problems and to create and implement new health technological solutions.

The key of participatory design is the increased user involvement, which is of importance for both the technologies created, for those using the technologies and for the organisations operating them.

Working in interdisciplinary teams – often across sectors and sciences – gives the research worker new insights that would have been difficult to acquire in a monodisciplinary team or alone.  Therefore, participatory design is a research design that functions well with projects about health scientific practic-based problems, as it combines research and innovation.

Participatory Design is suitable when wishing to change, improve and base clinical practice on evidence.

Participatory design in the health services

Several research and innovation projects have shown that patients do not always have their needs, and wishes met when encountering the health services. Participatory design considers this particular problem, as user involvement is a central part of the method.

Through a close collaboration with and between all parties, not only the voices of health professionals are heard, but also the patient’s and the relative’s voices. IT-developers are also involved in the design process. This collaboration is just as central as the collaboration with the users, as the developers contributes a technological knowledge that is often unkown to both patients, the health personnel and research workers. This close collaboration reduces the risk of having to redesign the technology or the technology never being implemented.

Overall, participatory design in health sciences consists of three phases, of which the third phase is an extension of the original design. In phase 3, the developed technology is pilot tested in clinical practice and is evaluated by the users. The individual phases build on each other, and experiences from the previous phases are involved throughout the entire process.

Scientific methods

Phase 1

  • Literature studies
  • Field studies
  • Individual interviews
  • Focus groups
  • Survey

Phase 2

  • Field studies
  • Individual interviews
  • Focus groups


Phase 3

  • Field studies
  • Individual interviews
  • Focus groups
  • Analysis of qualitative data
  • Survey

User activities

Workshops, eg.

  • Problem identification
  • Future workshop
  • Dilemma-game

Workshops. eg.

  • Experiment in a lab-setup
  • Experiment at a hospital
  • Experiment between home and hospital

Experiment, eg.

  • Pilot test
  • Actions for implementation

Reach your users

Users can be reached in different ways:

  • Patient associations
  • Clinicians and other staff at hospitals and municipalities
  • Researchers
  • Public advertisement
  • Regional patient involvement committees (more a political level)

See our links in the box on the right.

Furthermore, companies can access the hospitals in the Region of Southern Denmark through “en indgang”.