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Presentation: 3:37

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Background: Homelessness is a critical public health issue worldwide that leads to poor health outcomes, including a bidirectional relationship with substance use. Photography-based qualitative research techniques, including photo-elicitation and photovoice, offer an alternative to traditional research methods to allow these vulnerable communities to tell their own stories in a strength-based manner.

Methods: A rapid systematic review protocol following Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) guidelines was conducted to search the available literature on March 29, 2022, reporting on the use of photograph-based methodologies among the unhoused and substance user communities. Searches were conducted in PubMed and Scopus, with all articles published between 2003 and 2020 for relevance. Six studies were selected in the final sample that was qualitatively analyzed to identify previous use of photography-based research techniques to bring awareness, share perspectives and experiences, or reduce the stigma of the unhoused and substance users.

Results: All studies used photography to share perspectives and experiences, most notably, an interrelatedness between homelessness and substance use, sleeping arrangements, and community services. Four of the studies used photography to promote awareness and advocate for change, while three used photography to express negative attitudes and societal views projected upon participants.

Discussion: Findings of this review indicate that photography is a valuable technique that can give vulnerable communities a voice. Photography-based interventions should be considered a viable qualitative research tool in academia, advocacy, public health, and beyond.