Participatory Design

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.


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. Phase 3 is developed and tested by Jane Clemensen, who was the first clinical research worker to use participatory design in a telemedical project. In phase 3, the developed technology is pilot tested in clinical practice and is evaluated by the users. The individual phases builds on each other, and experiences from the previous phases are involved through the entire process.



Within the Centre for Innovative Medical Technology (CIMT), participatory design is used in a wide range of research projects, and i.e. it was a PhD project with participatory design that provided the basis for the development of the succesful My Hospital app, which is now used in the entire Region of Southern Denmark in a wide range of different patient courses.

Projects in CIMT using PD as the method: