Identifying ‘hard-to-reach’ groups and strategies to engage them in biomedical research: perspectives from engagement practitioners in South East Asia

Dr

Mary Chambers

(She/Her)

Senior Lecturer

Faculty of Medical & Life Sciences

University of Oxford

Overview

Research on why some groups are harder to reach – an outcome to a 2 day workshop with 38 engagement practitioners working in SE Asia (36 SE Asian nationals).

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.

Key Findings

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      About this research

      This journal article was part of a collaborative effort

      The PE workshop was funded by a grant from the Wellcome Trust (106680). OUCRU PE activities are funded by numerous grants from the Wellcome Trust (106680, 099493), Sanofi Espoir Foundation, Bayer, Global Health Bioethics Network (Wellcome Strategic Award no. 096527). MORU PE activities is funded by a Wellcome Trust Provision for Public Engagement grant (106698). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.

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      UN Sustainable Development Goals

      This research contributes to the following SDGs

      About this research

      The PE workshop was funded by a grant from the Wellcome Trust (106680). OUCRU PE activities are funded by numerous grants from the Wellcome Trust (106680, 099493), Sanofi Espoir Foundation, Bayer, Global Health Bioethics Network (Wellcome Strategic Award no. 096527). MORU PE activities is funded by a Wellcome Trust Provision for Public Engagement grant (106698). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.

      This paper was co-authored

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      What findings means

      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):

      – Formative research to improve understanding of the population
      – Integrating into local life
      – Networking with relevant stakeholders
      – Developing local resources

      Methodology

      Brainstorming around main hard to reach groups and summarising key issues and suggestions.

      Working with a limited group in workshop representing 6/7 SE Asian countries, therefore not fully scaleable or exhaustive.

      Glossary

      Want to read the full paper? It is available open access

      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.

      Thank you to

      for helping to prepare this research