Open Access Open Badges Research article

A framework for stakeholder identification in concept mapping and health research: a novel process and its application to older adult mobility and the built environment

Claire Schiller123*, Meghan Winters13, Heather M Hanson12 and Maureen C Ashe12

Author Affiliations

1 Centre for Hip Health and Mobility, 6F-2635 Laurel Street, Vancouver, BC V5Z 1M9, Canada

2 Department of Family Practice, University of British Columbia (UBC), Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z4, Canada

3 Faculty of Health Sciences, Simon Fraser University (SFU), Burnaby, BC V5A 1S6, Canada

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BMC Public Health 2013, 13:428  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-13-428

Published: 2 May 2013



Stakeholders, as originally defined in theory, are groups or individual who can affect or are affected by an issue. Stakeholders are an important source of information in health research, providing critical perspectives and new insights on the complex determinants of health. The intersection of built and social environments with older adult mobility is an area of research that is fundamentally interdisciplinary and would benefit from a better understanding of stakeholder perspectives. Although a rich body of literature surrounds stakeholder theory, a systematic process for identifying health stakeholders in practice does not exist. This paper presents a framework of stakeholders related to older adult mobility and the built environment, and further outlines a process for systematically identifying stakeholders that can be applied in other health contexts, with a particular emphasis on concept mapping research.


Informed by gaps in the relevant literature we developed a framework for identifying and categorizing health stakeholders. The framework was created through a novel iterative process of stakeholder identification and categorization. The development entailed a literature search to identify stakeholder categories, representation of identified stakeholders in a visual chart, and correspondence with expert informants to obtain practice-based insight.


The three-step, iterative creation process progressed from identifying stakeholder categories, to identifying specific stakeholder groups and soliciting feedback from expert informants. The result was a stakeholder framework comprised of seven categories with detailed sub-groups. The main categories of stakeholders were, (1) the Public, (2) Policy makers and governments, (3) Research community, (4) Practitioners and professionals, (5) Health and social service providers, (6) Civil society organizations, and (7) Private business.


Stakeholders related to older adult mobility and the built environment span many disciplines and realms of practice. Researchers studying this issue may use the detailed stakeholder framework process we present to identify participants for future projects. Health researchers pursuing stakeholder-based projects in other contexts are encouraged to incorporate this process of stakeholder identification and categorization to ensure systematic consideration of relevant perspectives in their work.

Stakeholders; Concept mapping; Older adults’ mobility; Built environment; Health