Citizen Science in Health Research: Perspectives, challenges and opportunities

03 oktober 2023

Citizen science, a participatory research method that engages non-professional individuals as co-researchers, has gained significant attention in various scientific domains. It remains however underexplored in health research. This study explores to what extent citizen science is used in health research, which methodologies are utilized, and what the stakeholders' perspectives are on the opportunities and challenges of citizen science in health. A scoping review of Pubmed found 689 articles of which only 108 were included. Many articles were out of scope as they revolved around environmental health and ecology, or did not apply a citizen science approach according to a predefined definition. The Pubmed and grey literature search identified 75 citizen science health projects, mostly within the biomedical research domain. Citizens were most often involved in data collection and analysis within biomedical research, and co-creation and design within health services research. The number of publications has risen over the last decade. Interviews with ten citizen science and/or health experts revealed positive attitudes towards citizen science in health, citing benefits such as increased research relevance, enhanced health literacy among citizens, and improved public trust in science. Challenges encompassed vagueness in defining citizen science in health, lack of good practices, time and cost considerations, and ethical implications. To encourage its adoption, stakeholders highlighted the importance of raising awareness with both the public and researchers, facilitating dialogue, and providing financial and non-financial incentives for researchers.


Michiel Lammens


dr. Luk Bruyneel


Scivil (RVO-Society)


KU Leuven