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Community engagement is increasingly recognized as a critical element of medical research, recommended by ethicists, required by research funders and advocated in ethics guidelines. The benefits of community engagement are often stressed in instrumental terms, particularly with regard to promoting recruitment and retention in studies. Less emphasis has been placed on the value of community engagement with regard to ethical good practice, with goals often implied rather than clearly articulated. This article outlines explicitly how community engagement can contribute to ethical global health research by complementing existing established requirements such as informed consent and independent ethics review. The overarching and interlinked areas are (1) respecting individuals, communities and stakeholders; (2) building trust and social relationships; (3) determining appropriate benefits; minimizing risks, burdens and exploitation; (4) supporting the consent process; (5) understanding vulnerabilities and researcher obligations; (6) gaining permissions, approvals and building legitimacy and (7) achieving recruitment and retention targets.

Original publication




Journal article


Glob Bioeth

Publication Date





1 - 12


Community engagement, ethics, global health, research ethics