A number of different resources to support students and early career researchers exist, but these generally fall into one of two camps. Firstly, there is a plethora of design method cards that offer short definitions and descriptions of methods. Method after method is presented but without the necessary contextual information to frame and enable the emerging researcher to make sense of these or to understand how to apply these in particular situations. At the opposite end of the spectrum are research textbooks – dense, complex and text-heavy focusing predominantly on theory with few tangible examples to illuminate what these mean in practice and which design researchers report finding difficult to relate directly to their research.

This resource needed to speak the language of design. Design research needs to be fit for purpose – its form, therefore, needed to be visually strong but have equal credibility for a non-design readership who are seeking to understand or apply the research described.

The resource also needed to celebrate inter-disciplinarity. We live in a complex world and there is agreement that no one discipline or profession holds all of the answers. This is particularly true in healthcare. As such, we aim to show the breadth of Design for Health research as context-specific. Each case study responds to the expertise, experiences and resources of the individuals and organisations that were involved. Therefore, we hope you recognise that each case study is a step in a larger research journey for individuals, communities and organisations (although they are presented as standalone research projects).

Consequently, we need to find ways to share our research in such a way that we can work together, passing the research baton and our findings back and forth across and between disciplines. To do this we need to develop a shared understanding and language. The aim is to build an understanding of broader methodologies and paradigms for design researchers working in the field of health, and for health researchers working with designers to have a sensitivity and understanding of the rigour and strength of design research. This resource is a first step to developing shared understandings.


We recognised the need for a resource to help D4H researchers more effectively harness their expertise – one THAT confidently foregrounds D4H practice, including examples of visual materials and the reasoning of researchers engaging in design-led enquiry.