Community perception on biomedical research: A case study of malariometric survey in Korogwe District, Tanga Region, Tanzania

Isolide S Massawe, John P Lusingu and Rachel N Manongi
Publication year: 

Background: Community perception in biomedical research remains critical in Africa with many participants being driven by different motives. The objective of this study was to explore the perceived motives for women or females guardians to volunteer for their children to participate in biomedical research and to explore experiences and challenges faced by Community Owned Resource Persons (CORPs) when mobilizing community members to participate in biomedical research.

Methods: This cross sectional study was conducted in Korogwe district, in north-eastern Tanzania. Qualitative methods combining random and purposive sampling techniques were used for data collection. A randomly selected sample using random table method from the existing list of households in the ward office was used to select participants for Focus Group Discussions (FGDs). A purposive sampling technique was used for In-Depth Interviews (IDIs) with CORPs. Thematic framework analysis was used to analyze the data.

Results: Need for better health services, availability of qualified clinicians, and better access to services provided at the research points were reported as main motives for community members to participate in biomedical research. With regard to experience and challenges faced by CORPs, the main reasons for mothers and guardians not participating in biomedical research were linked to misconception of the malariometric surveys, negative perception of the validity and sensitivity of rapid diagnostic tests, fear of knowing Human Immunodeficiency Virus Infection (HIV)/Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (HIV/AIDS) sero status, and lack of trust for the medical information provided by the CORPs. Challenges reported by CORPs included lack ofawareness of malariometric surveys among participants, time consumption in mobilization of the community, difficulties in identifying individual results, and family responsibilities.

Conclusion: This study has shown that majority of community members had positive perceptions of the about malariometric surveys services provided. The availability of free health services was the major determining factor for community members’ participation in malariometric surveys. CORPs are instrumental in mobilizing community members participation during malariometric surveys, despite their experiences and the challenges they face.