Frontiers in Public Health

Public and community engagement in health science research: Openings and obstacles for listening and responding in the majority world.

Public and community engagement in health science research is a Research Topic, published in the journal Frontiers in Public Health in the specialty section Public Health Education and Promotion. The Research Topic was designed to explore approaches taken by engagement practitioners, engagement scholars, social scientists, and researchers to promote listening and responding to community voices in research processes. It seeks to understand the challenges that obstruct meaningful integration of community voices in research design and responsiveness to expressions of needs and aspirations for change, in low-and-middle-income countries.

The Research Topic draws experience from numerous majority world countries and explores multiple global health challenges and research approaches. The majority world is “where the vast majority of the world’s people live yet they have access to a fraction of the world’s wealth and power”.  By discussing projects, programmes or guidelines, each article provides valuable experience and insight into the effectiveness of efforts to promote listening and responsiveness in community engagement initiatives. The Research Topic comprises 10 articles including six original research papers, two community case studies, one methods article, and one perspective piece. Experiences are shared from Southeast Asia, Africa, and South America.

Six articles discuss approaches and methods suggested or used to engage community members in pressing public health challenges and ethically complex fields of research. The Research Topic also applies a critical lens to engagement frameworks and outcomes by discussing constraints in researcher, community, and government responsiveness.

Collectively, the articles in this Research Topic share significant obstacles encountered, and valuable lessons learned through the design, implementation, and assessment of community engagement initiatives. By drawing on their learning the authors raise important questions and offer recommendations with the intention of strengthening and grounding community engagement practice in global health research in resource-limited contexts.

Project leader:Dr. Gill Black, Sustainable Livelihoods FoundationCo-editors:Professor Phaik Yeong Cheah, Mahidol Oxford Tropical Medicine Research Unit, Thailand Dr Mary Chambers Oxford University Clinical Research Unit, Vietnam Dr. Deborah Nyirenda, Malawi Liverpool Wellcome Trust Clinical Research Programme, MalawiDuration:10 months
November 2021 – August 2022

Project outputs and resources