How to build empathy in research

About this video

Empathy can help researchers better understand people’s behaviours, values and needs. Through asking effective questions, a researcher can build empathy with research participants.

In this webinar, our experts explain why empathy is important in research and focus on three tools for building empathy in research: interviewing, journey mapping and Photovoice. Also, they discuss ways of adapting these tools across sectors; including academia, industry and clinical settings.

After this webinar, you will learn practical tips on how to ask effective questions for building empathy with research participants, how to leverage journey-maps to understand workflows and stories, identify gaps and needs, and encourage participatory research. Also, you will understand how the use of Photovoice as a methodological tool can promote empathy among policymakers and other stakeholders.      

About the presenters

Brenda Reginatto

Independent Consultant to digital health companies in Boston, USA.

Brenda is a gerontologist with expertise in human-centered design and healthcare innovation. Brenda has led user research teams at University College Dublin (Ireland) and Partners Healthcare (USA), where she worked with companies, ranging from early stage start-ups to large multinationals, to bring the voice of the user to the design and development of their digital health products. After obtaining her MSc from King’s College London in 2012, Brenda became interested in the application of human-centred design to create better products and services for older adults. She is currently working as an independent consultant to digital health companies in Boston, USA.

Sunetra Bane

Independent UX consultant with innovation labs and start-ups.


Sunetra is a user-experience researcher and strategist with experience in human-centered design and design thinking for product and service design. She also has a background in global public health in the US and Indian context, earning her MPH from Boston University’s School of Public Health in 2015.

During her time at Partners Healthcare, Sunetra leveraged both those elements of her background, education and experience to lead design projects focused on improving health outcomes and the human journey with illness and wellness. She is interested in bridging the gap between academic and applied user research for product and service design in healthcare. Sunetra is now based in Pune, India, working as an independent UX consultant with innovation labs and start-ups.



Dr Susie Donnelly

Postdoctoral researcher with the School of Nursing, Midwifery and Health Systems and the Centre for Arthritis Research in University College Dublin.

Susie is a postdoctoral researcher with the School of Nursing, Midwifery and Health Systems and the Centre for Arthritis Research in University College Dublin. She joined these teams in 2018 under a Wellcome Trust Medical Humanities and Social Science Collaborative grant to conduct participatory action research with a community of people living with the chronic and invisible illness, rheumatoid arthritis. Building on her background in journalism (BA) and sociology (HDip, MSocSc, PhD), she began to explore innovative participatory methods such as photovoice upon joining the research team at the Centre for Applied Research in Connected Health as ethnographer in 2017. 

Susie’s research career reflects her diverse interests in methodology, communications, power and inequality. She has peer-reviewed publications in the Journal of Medical Internet Research, the Irish Journal of Sociology, and the Journal of Contemporary Religion among others