Sigma Research

Participatory and community-based research: knowledge for action

Be Heard, Global Forum on MSM & HIV, Pre Conference Vienna, 17th July 2010.

Speakers: Catherine Dodds, Adam Bourne, Peter Keogh & Will Nutland

This two-hour workshop considered the best way to ground social research within the communities it investigates and informs. It was led by staff from Sigma Research who have provided research and development support for England’s national HIV prevention programme (CHAPS) for gay men and other men that have sex with men (MSM) since 1997. Participants heard about how this collaborative approach to community research was established and how it functions to support the research process. Speakers described how working closely with community-based agencies ensured that the evidence base to which they have contributed influenced intervention planning, programme delivery, and local and national policies affecting MSM. Small group work encouraged participants to consider the tensions that can exist in such relationships, and suggest ways to address them. Sigma staff described their unique position within a well-established national partnership and how this enabled them to participate in needs-led planning and described how the conversion of research findings into policy and practice requires active and diverse dissemination strategies, and a willingness to be responsive to data requests and questions of clarification. The strengths and weaknesses of this kind of grassroots accessibility were explored.

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