Qualitative Health Research Network


Dr Rochelle Burgess

When participation isn’t enough: A call for transformative research methods in global health

Title of seminar

When participation isn’t enough: A call for transformative research methods in global health

Date and time

Wednesday 9th October 2019, 11:30-12:30


In the field of global health there has been a resurgence of debates around the value of community participation and patient involvement. The phrase ‘nothing for us without us’ is increasingly used in fields like HIV and Global Mental Health to articulate the importance of community buy in, community engagement, and participation in processes of intervention design and implementation. However, Global Health’s sister discipline – international development – has a long history that describes the uses and abuses of participation, and a trail of community participants who are often left no better off than prior to research engagement. How can we avoid the pitfalls of previous eras of interest in participation to make engagement more meaningful for those who are the targets of research and interventions?

This presentation argues for a transition away from participatory discourses and towards Transformative approaches in global health research. By the end of the session, participants will have an understanding of the ways in which transformative research goes beyond critical epistemologies of research (including participatory approaches) and the importance of Transformative methods within contexts of marginalisation and social challenges. The session will highlight how transformative methods can be applied within a case study of responding to mental health services for AIDS affected women in South Africa - within spaces of both evaluation and intervention research.

About the speaker

Rochelle Burgess is a leading community health psychologist who specialises in community based approaches to health, with an emphasis on community engagement and qualitative methodologies. She is interested in the promotion of community approaches to health globally, and views communities as a route to studying and responding to the interface between health concerns and broader development issues such as poverty, power, systems of governance, and community mobilisation (civil society). She has worked on community mental health projects for more than a decade, and is currently PI on a range of projects that focus on developing community mental health interventions (including South Africa, Colombia, Zimbabwe and UK). She is a leading voice in the emerging field of social interventions in Global Mental Health. She is a Lecturer in Global Health and Deputy Director of the UCL Centre for Global Non-Communicable Diseases, at the Institute for Global Health at UCL. She is the founder and Director of UCL's Global Network on Mental Health and Child Marriage, and UCL's Global Mental Health Network. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Public Health, among other affiliations.