Sharing power in global health research: an ethical toolkit for designing priority-setting processes that meaningfully include communities
To promote social justice and equity, global health research should meaningfully engage communities throughout projects: from setting agendas onwards. But communities, especially those that are considered disadvantaged or marginalised, rarely have a say in the priorities of the research projects that aim to help them. So far, there remains limited ethical guidance and resources on how to share power with communities in health research priority-setting. This paper presents an “ethical toolkit” for academic researchers and their community partners to use to design priority-setting processes that meaningfully include the communities impacted by their projects. An empirical reflective equilibrium approach was employed to develop the toolkit. Conceptual work articulated ethical considerations related to sharing power in g0l0o0bal health research priority-setting, developed guidance on how to address them, and created an initial version of the toolkit. Empirical work (51 in-depth interviews, 1 focus group, 2 case studies in India and the Philippines) conducted in 2018 and 2019 then tested those findings against information from global health research practice. The final ethical toolkit is a reflective project planning aid. It consists of 4 worksheets (Worksheet 1- Selecting Partners; Worksheet 2- Deciding to Partner; Worksheet 3- Deciding to Engage with the Wider Community; Worksheet 4- Designing Priority-setting) and a Companion Document detailing how to use them. Reflecting on and discussing the questions in Worksheets 1 to 4 before priority-setting will help deliver priority-setting processes that share power with communities and projects with research topics and questions that more accurately reflect their healthcare and system needs.
Pratt, B. Sharing power in global health research: an ethical toolkit for designing priority-setting processes that meaningfully include communities. Int J Equity Health 20, 127 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12939-021-01453-y