Dundee, as one of the most socially deprived areas in Scotland, has 10.6% of the population identified as ethnic minority. BAME (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic) groups are susceptible to poor health and oral health outcomes. However, they have been under-represented in health research and promotion interventions for many years. Engaging this socially excluded group in research is important when seeking to reduce health inequalities.
This Innovation and Impact Development Fund (IIDF) funded project, led by School of Dentistry and in collaboration with staff members from Schools of Health Sciences and Humanities, was delivered at the Dundee International Women’s Centre (DIWC). It aimed to engage BAME women living in Dundee to explore their experience and opinions of participation in health and oral health research.
These co-designed workshops involved service users and staff members of DIWC, along with researchers from the University of Dundee, through various engaging activities such as self-portrait drawing, role play, priority ranking exercise. To improve the interactivity, a graphic illustrator captured the discussions through live drawing, and participants provided feedback on the illustrations to ensure cultural appropriateness and diversity.
Participants from DIWC actively discussed the health research topics that they prioritised and voiced their views on how to improve inclusivity and maximise research participation for their group. Key discussion points included communication, cultural needs, accessibility of information, and providing space and time. As outputs of this public engagement project, the participants have co-produced a poster and a booklet to highlight their identified research topics and ‘Dos & Don’ts’ in terms of engaging this group in research.
The project received positive feedback from both the university team and the local community, and the poster and booklet were received positively.
DIWC community group leader, Salma Hanif Gani said, “It really has been a pleasure working in a partnership. The project team who ran the workshops were very clear, respectful and understanding of each learner’s point of view. We really felt the team listened. The booklet shows that every voice was heard.”
The graphic illustrator, Cat Laird also shared her co-design experience during the workshops: “As an artist it was thoroughly rewarding to be present for the co-design workshops. Not only does it give me a better idea of who I’m drawing, how they interact with one another, and give me an opportunity to ask questions in person for direct answers and feedback, but listening to the participants allows me to consider imagery as they talk and better visualise the end results of the publication. While I am creating, I can picture the event back in my mind and draw upon memories which gives better results than just a script alone and makes me feel much more a part of the team.”
Dr Siyang Yuan, Lecturer from School of Dentistry, said “Through this project, participants learned the role of BAME people in the research process, their voices were listened to and their health priorities valued. This collaborative working between the university and communities could share experiences and perspectives to create a shared goal and vision and is crucial to promoting health equity. This project is an excellent example of successful co-design/co-production that should be replicated in other contexts.”
Dr Siyang Yuan
Lecturer in Dental Public Health
School of Dentistry, University of Dundee