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  • Author or Editor: Michelle Wyndham-West x
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This article captures how scientific uncertainty is negotiated and its implications on public health policy. Through the case study of the Human Papillomavirus vaccine in Canada, we investigated how policymakers engage in ‘sensemaking’, the process whereby policymakers mediate shifting informational terrain to come to an understanding of what events and information mean, how they become significant and how they are acted upon. Key informant interviews reveal that policymakers make decisions amidst uncertainty by invoking public health cultural ideologies and by actively managing interactions with the manufacturer. This reflects a non-linear dispositif that is influenced by the co-production of culture and power.

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Co-design is an approach to engaging stakeholders in health and social system change that is rapidly gaining traction, yet there are also questions about the extent to which there is meaningful engagement of structurally vulnerable communities and whether co-design leads to lasting system change. The McMaster University Co-Design Hub with Vulnerable Populations Hub (‘the Hub’) is a three-year interdisciplinary project with the goal of facilitating partnerships, advancing methods of co-design with vulnerable populations, and mobilising knowledge.

Aims and objectives:

A developmental evaluation approach inspired by experience-based co-design was used to co-produce a theory of change to understand how the co-design process could be used to creatively co-design a co-design hub with structurally vulnerable populations.


Twelve community stakeholders with experience participating in a co-design project were invited to participate in two online visioning events to co-develop the goals, priorities, and objectives of the Hub. Qualitative data were analysed using a thematic content analysis approach.


A theory of change framework was co-developed that outlines a future vision for the Hub and strategies to achieve this, and a visual graphic is presented.

Discussion and conclusions:

Through critical reflection on the work of the Hub, we focus on the co-creative methods that were applied when co-designing the Hub’s theory of change. Moreover, we illustrate how co-creative processes can be applied to embrace the complexity and vulnerability of all stakeholders and plan for system change with structurally vulnerable populations.

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