In many municipal policy strategies in the Netherlands, citizen participation is a key issue. Participation has become more and more important in the framework of Health in All Policies (HiAP). The aim of this study was to get insight into the perception of professionals about the current and desired level of citizen participation and preconditions in the field of Health Impact Assessment (HIA).
Professionals’ perceptions were explored by conducting interviews with seven professionals and three focus group sessions (with a total of 20 professionals), all active in the field of HIA in the Netherlands. All professionals were recruited through the network of the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment.
Professionals consider the current level of citizen participation within HIA insufficient and would prefer a higher level of citizen participation in HIA. They consider citizens’ knowledge relevant and of added value to professional knowledge. In addition, citizen science contributes to support for new policy and to citizens’ health. However, professionals doubt citizens’ capacity to participate, e.g. citizens have different points of view, do not listen to one another, or find it difficult to articulate their opinion. This might especially be the case for citizens with a low socio-economic status (SES). Other barriers experienced are citizen recruitment, citizen representation, time and funding required for organizing citizen participation, feasibility of the topic, management of citizens’ expectations, and lack of methodological guidelines.
Levels of citizen participation in HIA should be increased as this creates better knowledge, supports new policies, and contributes to health. However, engaging citizens is challenging, citizen participation is not (yet) proven to be effective, and theoretical substance is still lacking. Citizen participation in HIA requires scientific, social, and ethical issues to be addressed, e.g. how to reach consensus among all stakeholders. As every project is unique, guidelines that can be tailored to the context are needed to facilitate citizen participation in HIA. Citizen participation in HIA can be described as ‘the science of muddling through’.
|Period||9 Apr 2019|
|Event title||23rd IUHPE World Conference on Health Promotion, 7 - 11 April 2019, Rotorua, Aotearoa New Zealand|
|Location||Rotorua, Aotearoa , New Zealand|