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Community sensitisation is a fundamental aspect of clinical trial operations anywhere in the world. Perhaps it is more important for trials being planned developing countries as the target patient population may be more vulnerable through poverty, illiteracy or the severity of the disease being studied. In rural developing country communities the very concept of research may be difficult to communicate. Community engagement activities are typically conducted as part of community entry strategies or as an essential supplement to informed consent processes. Despite the recognised importance of community sensitisation in clinical trials, relatively few sites have shared their community sensitisation strategies, the strengths and challenges they have faced or the steps taken to address these challenges.
In this section, expert social scientists who are highly experienced in community engagement will be describing why this is a fundamental area in the conduct of clinical trials. Example tools and training resources will be provided and well has pragmatic ‘how-to’ guidance. Whilst these are being written we welcome any specific suggestions, especially describing any problems, issues or uncertainties research groups have faced in the area of community engagement for clinical trials.
It would be beneficial to other sites if researchers would contribute their experiences and share any tools or resources they have developed. Any material submitted will be authored and is eligible for awarding CPD points.
This article originally appears on the Global Health Trials resources. Please visit us for more resources relating to trials.
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The Editorial Team
Community engagement is promoted as one way to involve communities in health research. Some questions asked include what is community? what is engagement? who is engaged on behalf of whom? why is one engaging the other? whose authority/representation/voice do those engaged bring to the process? Are the ones engaging also being engaged? Engagement is said to be a continuum from simple information giving to deeper levels of partnership e.g. in participatory research, that community sensitization maybe one activity within broader community engagement program. Community members employed by research groups (often called fieldworkers) are said to play a key role in community engagement. But, how do they mediate between researchers (their employers), research participants (their community) and their one interests? What moral and ethical challenges do they face and how are these addressed?. Comments/views are very welcome