Positionality, reflexivity and ethics in global public health research
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School of Health and Related Research, University of Sheffield, United Kingdom
School of Public Health, University of Ghana, Ghana
School of Public Health, University of Ghana
Publication date: 2023-04-27
Popul. Med. 2023;5(Supplement):A1838
Background and Objectives: As global public health researchers, we strives to increase health system efficiency and reduce inequity due to factors associated with healthcare access and societal wellbeing. Many of the areas of greatest health need are in low-income contexts. However, the majority of funding remains tied to institutions and individuals in high-income settings.  Poorly considered research across settings can create disconnect between the researcher and research, further instils colonialist attitudes, and enforces power hierarchies. Yet, the neglect of major health-related challenges facing other environments is ethically more problematic. The Objective of this research was to critically reflect on levels of discordance to foster more ethical and collaborative research. Methods: Reflectivity and positionality were applied to better understand the role of the researcher, their social experiences, position and power hierarchies influence knowledge generation. This involved sharing researchers’ experience following an exchange between the Universities of Ghana and Sheffield and in fostering a collaboration to conduct mixed methodsdata collection and analysis with a teaching hospital in northern Ghana. Results: Numerous aspects of person and place influenced research experience, how the research was conducted and knowledge generation. However, power dynamics can be fluid and change with the environment. This required what geographers have called ‘radical humility’ in research – an integral openness for researchers to learn, be wrong, change, and acknowledge they are unaware how they are unaware. Conclusions: Reflexivity and positionality are vital to consider in ethical global health research.
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