Co-creation is a participative research approach for understanding complex problems and developing solutions in specific contexts. Its goal is to bring together representatives of relevant stakeholder groups, to collectively work on solving a problem. Who these stakeholders are differs per situation, but they are usually the people impacted by, responsible for, or otherwise involved in the problem or its resolution. In co-creation, these stakeholder groups are regarded as experts in their own right and take the role of equal partners to the researchers, with the aim of facilitating ownership of the developed solutions, and integrating their knowledge and perspectives on the problem and how it should be addressed. In this way, solutions are developed that are more likely to be supported by these stakeholder groups, fit the context, and address the core of the problem.

In recent years, co-creation has gained traction in public health research, often as a way to design more relevant, acceptable, and impactful health interventions, or to get grip on the complexity of problems in systems thinking. This toolkit aims to provide public health researchers who are unfamiliar with co-creation with a basic introduction to this approach.


This toolkit contains the following:

Chapter 1: The what and why of co-creation

Chapter 2: Doing co-creation: an infographic

Chapter 3: A primer for applying co-creation

Chapter 4: Examples of co-creation

Chapter 5: Useful resources

DISCLAIMER: The term co-creation is often used interchangeably with the similar approaches of co-design and co-production. This toolkit aims to provide a very basic introduction to these co-methods in general. As such, the term co-creation is here used as an umbrella term for these various approaches and we will not go into their distinctions. For an in-depth discussion on the nuances between these approaches we recommend the following paper: Vargas, et al. (2022) Co-creation, co-design, co-production for public health - a perspective on definition and distinctions

Developed by researchers of Amsterdam UMC within the APH Health Behaviors & Chronic Diseases research program, C├ędric Middel, Josine Stuber, and Joreintje Mackenbach, together with colleagues of Leiden University from the Health, Medical, and Neuropsychology Unit, Linda Breeman and Isra Al-Dhahir.