Human biomonitoring from an environmental justice perspective: supporting study participation of women of Turkish and Moroccan descent

Bert Morrens*, Elly Den Hond, Greet Schoeters, Dries Coertjens, Ann Colles, Tim S. Nawrot, Willy Baeyens, Stefaan De Henauw, Vera Nelen, Ilse Loots

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    Abstrakt

    Background: Environmental justice research shows how socially disadvantaged groups are more exposed and more vulnerable to environmental pollution. At the same time, these groups are less represented and, thus, less visible in biomedical studies. This socioeconomic participation bias is a form of environmental injustice within research practice itself. Methods: We designed, implemented and evaluated a targeted recruitment strategy to enhance the participation of socially disadvantaged pregnant women in a human biomonitoring study in Belgium. We focused on women of Turkish and Moroccan descent and developed a setup using personal buddies that enabled information transfer about study conditions in the pre-parturition period as well as support and follow-up with questionnaires in the post-parturition period. Results: We identified four barriers to the participation of women with a vulnerable social and ethnic background which were related to psychosocial and situational factors. Lack of trust in researchers and no perceived study benefits were important personal barriers; the complex study design and difficult self-administered questionnaires were equally significant barriers. Conclusion: By investing in direct, person-to-person contact with trusted buddies and supported by practical advice about cultural and linguistic sensitivity, it was possible to increase study participation of socially disadvantaged people. Above all, this required openness and flexibility in the mind-set of researchers so that study design and procedures could be better grounded in the experiences and circumstances of underprivileged groups.

    OriginalsprogEngelsk
    Artikelnummer48
    TidsskriftEnvironmental Health: A Global Access Science Source
    Vol/bind16
    Antal sider9
    ISSN1476-069X
    DOI
    StatusUdgivet - 19. maj 2017

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