Decolonizing Global Health through Participatory Data Analysis
Adapting the analysis phase of qualitative formative research to include participatory in-person collaboration with local stakeholders can yield richer results, given their expertise in the local context and culture. Explicitly involving partners ensures results are viewed with a higher degree of credibility and have more local buy-in compared to the typical approach which occurs outside the countries of implementation. Collaborating with local stakeholders to interpret and synthesize findings also strengthens relationships.
Two principal investigators implemented this adaptation in eight instances in six countries. The experiences took place over the course of four years starting in 2017 and spanned two USAID projects led by Johns Hopkins Center for the Communication Project (CCP): the Health Communication Capacity Collaborative (HC3), and Breakthrough ACTION.
The participatory data analysis process encompassed five topics: rural adolescent reproductive health, Zika, priority zoonotic diseases, HIV self-test kits, and COVID-19. Collectively, the work included data from focus group discussions, in-depth interviews, observations, and community maps.
Given the large number of individuals involved, the participatory data analysis process expedited the turnaround of results to funders and implementers. On average, the process allowed implementation staff to start work six months earlier compared to a more traditional process.
The principal investigators deviated from the usual expectations that researchers funded by USAID conduct data analysis in the United States. Rather, the investigators conducted data analysis in-country with partners, which centered the process in the local context.
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