The inclusion of citizens in research projects on women’s health – #BHHMembersInitiatives

Including citizens in scientific health research is possible and highly necessary. From identifying a need or challenge, to generating data, formulating research questions or designing the study, involving citizens provides valuable data and a perspective that takes into account people’s needs and priorities. This ensures that the results are more applicable, aligned with social needs, and have an impact on people’s quality of life and the efficiency and equity of the healthcare system.

Furthermore, including citizens in research is an indicator of good practices and is a cross-cutting axis of the Horizon Europe Framework Programme for Research and Innovation, which builds on the lessons learned from Horizon 2020.

From the health area, Science for Change offers services based on citizen science, participatory methodologies, and co-creation approaches that are highly inclusive and reproducible. These services address various needs that may arise in the field of health related to research, improvement of healthcare services, and training.

With the IIB (the Sant Pau Hospital Research Institute) they have conducted three co-creation sessions for the development of research projects on women’s health that involve citizens in research, following the principles of Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI).

During these three sessions, researchers, clinicians, citizens, and patients have joined forces to advance the Women’s Health and Gender program. They started by identifying women’s health challenges for participatory research. Once identified, three main challenges were selected:

  • Comprehensive approach to menopause
  • Gender bias in the diagnosis, treatment, and research of health issues
  • Study of the collectivization of care, promoting new masculinities and co-responsibility

Then, they proceeded with the co-design of three research projects focused on the identified challenges. They identified what they know about these challenges and what they need to know, co-designed objectives, mapped key stakeholders following the quadruple helix model, and focused on citizens, which was the objective of the sessions. They discussed whom to include, how, when, and in what way. Once these aspects were identified, they also defined indicators to evaluate active citizen participation in the projects, in order to gather data and assess their success.

The institute aims to pursue these three projects and secure funding to carry them out. At Science for Change, they hope to continue collaborating and witness the growth of these essential initiatives. They would like to express their gratitude to the researchers, citizens, and patients who actively participated in the co-design of the projects, as well as to the RRI department of the IIB for their trust in them!