The community’s voice in research

Wed, 10/10/2012 - 13:47 -- admin
TitleThe community’s voice in research
Publication TypeResearch
Year of Publication2001
AuthorsMacaulay AC, Gibson N, Freeman WL

The Cree commentary demonstrates that local people living in remote northern communities are comfortable with and interested in responding critically to an academic paper about a study that involved them.(1) Although not common in the literature, field-level responses to professional research will have an impact on research validity and are accessible to other potential participants in medical research because they are written in nontechnical language and in the first person. The gestational diabetes project(2–5) marked an important stage in the evolution of participatory research practices in the Cree region. In the early 1990s, the Cree Board of Health and Social Services of James Bay sponsored research on gestational diabetes in the region. The resulting project became a partnership involving the Board, 4 communities and a university-based research team. The partners carried out community consultations during the planning phase of the project, hired local assistants, reported extensively to the communities during and after the project (in person, on radio and through popular language written reports) and provided the services of 2 nutritionists to the communities; the project also produced unanticipated spin-off research projects. The Cree commentary is a retrospective response by the community partners to the intervention aspects of the project. Some things are obvious in hindsight. Today, a project like this would be planned through a research agreement based on the Board's code of research ethics and research guidelines. However, these tools have been formalized only recently, as part of the evolution of the partnership between the Cree and research communities. The gestational diabetes project has been a catalyst in this evolution.