Community involvement in biomedical research conducted in the global health context; what can be done to make it really matter?

BMC Medical Ethics 19 (S1) (2018)
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Background Community involvement in research has been advocated by researchers, communities, regulatory agencies, and funders with the aim of reinforcing subjects’ protection and improving research efficiency. Community involvement also has the potential to improve dissemination, uptake, and implementation of research findings. The fields of community based participatory research conducted with indigenous populations and of participatory action research offer a large base of experience in community involvement in research. Rules on involving the population affected when conducting research have been established in these fields. But what is the role of community engagement in clinical research and observational studies conducted in biomedical research outside of these specific areas? Main body of the abstract More than 20 years ago, in the field of HIV medicine, regulatory bodies and funding agencies recommended the constitution of a formal organism, the Community Advisory Board, as part of the study requirements for HIV trials. More recently, CABs have been adopted and used in other fields of medical research, such as malaria. CABs are not without limitations, however, and there is little research on the effectiveness of their use in achieving community protection and participation. Nevertheless, CABs could be a model to import into clinical trials and observational research where no alternative model of community representation is currently being used. Conclusions Allocating more resources to training and shifting more power to community representatives could be part of the solution to current CAB limitations. However, for researchers to be able to apply these recommendations on community involvement, certain conditions need to be met. In particular, funding agencies need to recognize the human and financial resources required for serious community involvement, and the academic environment needs to take community involvement into account when appraising, mentoring, and training researchers.



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