Publications Publication : How to navigate the application of ethics norms in global health research: reflections based on qualitative research conducted with people with disabilities in Uganda


Une publication dans BMC Med Ethics de Muriel Mac-Seing, Louise Ringuette, Kate Zinszer, Béatrice Godard et Christina Zarowsky - Université de Montréal, en accès libre grâce au soutien de l'axe Saté mondiale et le programme SantéCap. A publication by Muriel Mac-Seing and Louise Ringuette, Kate Zinszer, Béatrice Godard et Christina Zarowsky, in open access (BMC Med Ethics) thanks to the financial support of the Global Health Axis and the GHR-CAPS program. 

Authors' abstract

Background :As Canadian global health researchers who conducted a qualitative study with adults with and without disabilities in Uganda, we obtained ethics approval from four institutional research ethics boards (two in Canada and two in Uganda). In Canada, research ethics boards and researchers follow the research ethics norms of the Tri-Council Policy Statement: Ethical Conduct for Research Involving Humans (TCPS2), and the National Guidelines for Research Involving Humans as Research Participants of Uganda (NGRU) in Uganda. The preparation and implementation of this qualitative research raised specific ethical issues related to research participant privacy and the importance of availability and management of financial resources.
Main body: Our field experience highlights three main issues for reflection. First, we demonstrate that, in a global health research context, methodological and logistic adjustments were necessary throughout the research implementation process to ensure the protection of study participants’ privacy, especially that of people with disabilities, despite having followed the prescribed Canadian and Ugandan ethics norms. Data collection and management plans were adapted iteratively based on local realities. Second, securing financial support as a key aspect of financial management was critical to ensure privacy through disability‑sensitive data collection strategies. Without adequate funding, the recruitment of research participants based on disability type, sex, and region or the hiring of local sign language interpreters would not have been possible. Third, although the TCPS2 and NGRU underscore the significance of participants’ privacy, none of these normative documents clearly express this issue in the context of global health research and disability, nor broadly discuss the ethical issue related to financial availability and management.
Conclusions : Conducting research in resource limited settings and with study participants with different needs calls for a nuanced and respectful implementation of research ethics in a global health context. We recommend a greater integration in both the TCPS2 and NGRU of global health research, disability, and responsible conduct of research. This integration should also be accompanied by adequate training which can further guide researchers, be they senior, junior, or students, and funding agencies.