There are a number of terms used when we talk about engaging non-researchers with health research: public engagement, community engagement, public outreach, public and patient involvement, participation. Each is defined differently by different organisations and individuals. We do not mean to exclude any of these within the Mesh network but we would like to promote the kind of engagement that goes beyond education, health promotion or recruitment to research studies.
Mesh would like to encourage as good practice those activities that bridge the gap between the research community and the general public in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), and provide channels for these groups to understand one another. This engagement should encourage a critical awareness of the personal, ethical and cultural impacts of health research and should stimulate an insightful sharing of views that has benefits for all involved. Engagement can come in many forms, such as community-led digital storytelling, collaborative theatre projects or café-style debates. The aim is to maximise the impact of health research ensuring research questions, methods and outcomes are relevant to communities and work to build a healthier society.
We want to create a neutral location for engagement practitioners, researchers, health workers and others to find resources, seek expertise and share their questions and experiences.