Community Engagment in Public Health Research




LeBovidge, Claire

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Community engagement (CE) is a collaborative practice between communities and researchers to improve the health outcomes and well-being of the community afflicted, while also potentially mitigating the negative consequences that result from the sometimes haphazard research conducted by outsiders. Presently, there is confusion regarding community engagement techniques due to discrepancies between prescribed models. To address the confusion surrounding community engagement, I created a consistent model that compounds current effective methods with ethical considerations for application across varying cultural and research contexts. I use a literature review to assess the different existing frameworks of community engagement for their advantages and disadvantages in public health research. Using this information, I constructed the new model with 5 major tenets including: prior understanding of community, encompassing application, involvement and representation, genuine consent, and self-reflection. This CE model is applied to a well-known case study involving a young Hmong girl, Lia Lee, who is caught in the crossfire of two conflicting cultures and their understanding of medicine. This analysis suggests that if the new CE model was properly employed, the frustration and pain in both the Hmong community, as well as the doctors treating Lia, may have been mitigated. While past health interventions cannot be changed, the way researchers conduct public health measures in the future can be adapted to implement community engagement as the default approach, instead.



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