Public health research and lay knowledge

Popay, Jennifer and Gareth Williams. 1996. “Public health research and lay knowledge.” Social Science and Medicine 42(5): 759-68.

: drawing from existing research on lay knowledge in public health and how such knowledge is formed and how it compares to scientific knowledge in public health.

The article focuses on lay knowledge about health and illness. It also stresses the importance of incorporating this lay knowledge constructed by lay people into public health research. With the changing nature in public health research and situations, there’s need to connect the social and biological dimensions of human health. Though not without limitations, lay knowledge has a role to play in the public health discourse argues the author. The paper also addresses some issues that arise with the integration of science and lay knowledge such as the implications on methodology while conducting research and how power relations affect the methods that are chosen in research. The author also looks at the possible reasons for not giving much importance to the lay knowledge one of which is that women are major participants in lay action for health. Finally the paper argues that a more pluralistic nature of methodology is needed as well as developing research processes that make lay expertise and its potential visible.

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