While public engagement is an increasingly important component in public health programmes and biomedical research, the public health interventions are limited in focus – currently these ‘public’ activities tend to reach a ‘convenient sample’ and thus miss out on a number of ‘hard-to-reach’ populations. The less socially visible groups, therefore, may have to be sacrificed for the need of maximised efficiency of public engagement interventions. But failure to engage the disadvantaged groups may result in a generalisation of the evidence of effective strategies used with the advantaged groups.
Public engagement projects in public health and biomedical research are limited by the demographics they effectively communicate with; particular hard-to-reach groups go underserved by these interventions, so new strategies must be developed.
In this workshop discussion, practitioners identified the main demographics and characteristics of populations that are underrepresented by public engagement programmes of biomedical research.
These populations fit broadly into 3 groups: urban poor, ethnic minority groups, and children in rural primary schools.
While each group is contextually separate, common barriers to engagement were identified:
1) Financial instability
2) Mobility in residency and work
3) Discrimination and isolation
4) Limitations in local resources
Engagement programs should use the following strategies to better engage these groups (FIND):
Public engagement projects in public health and biomedical research must be sensitive of challenges faced by marginalised communities, and implemented collaboratively with these groups.
Working with a limited group in workshop representing 6/7 SE Asian countries, therefore not fully scaleable or exhaustive.
|Hard to reach population||Groups of a population that are less accessible/ have less access to engagement activities and public health messaging, so miss out on the benefits of medical science.|
Nguyen Thanh H., Cheah PY., Chambers M. (2019) ‘Identifying ‘hard-to-reach’ groups and strategies to engage them in biomedical research: perspectives from engagement practitioners in SoutheastAsia.’ Wellcome Open Research 4: 102.