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Although community engagement is increasingly promoted in global health research to improve ethical research practice, there is sometimes a disconnect between the broader moral ambitions for community engagement in the literature and guidelines on the one hand and its rather narrower practical application in health research on the other. In practice, less attention is paid to engaging communities for the ‘intrinsic’ value of showing respect and ensuring inclusive participation of community partners in research design. Rather, more attention is paid to the use of community engagement for ‘instrumental’ purposes to improve community understanding of research and ensure successful study implementation. Against this backdrop, we reviewed the literature and engaged various research stakeholders at a workshop to discuss ways of strengthening ethical engagement of communities and to develop context-relevant guidelines for community engagement in health research in Malawi.

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Journal article

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