How Do Community-based Field Workers View the Impact of Their Research Participation on Their Lives

An  article recently published in BMC Public Health explored the way community-based field workers viewed the impact of research participation on their lives. Authored by Christabelle S. Moyo, Joseph Francis and Pascal O. Bessong, the article — Perceptions of community-based field workers on the effect of a longitudinal biomedical research project on their sustainable livelihoods — reports findings of a study conducted with 16 individuals who had worked as community-based field workers in the Etiology, Risk Factors and Interactions of Enteric Infections and Malnutrition and the Consequences for Child Health and Development Project (MAL-ED) South Africa which was initiated in 2009. Recruited from the community, the field workers were trained to collect data on childhood illnesses, vaccination history, feeding habits; and to collect biospecimens such as tool and urine following standard protocols that governed eight field sites in the project’s network.

To understand the way the field workers viewed the impact of their work in the lives, the researchers undertook a qualitative research project in January and February 2016. The methodology consisted of one-on-one interviews and focus group discussions with 16 former field workers and five community members who were not directly involved in the project. Benefits reported by the MAL-ED community-based field workers included:

  • Knowledge about child growth and malnutrition
  • Acquisition of knowledge & various skills
  • Knowledge about conducting research and data collection
  • Received financial benefits
  • Acquired physical assets
  • Experience working with children
  • Personal development
  • Social capital benefits (greater social network)
  • Understanding of water and sanitation issues

The article can be accessed from BMC Public Health.