Members of the public who are involved in health research in Oxford have attended a training workshop focused on the ways in which equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) can help improve the quality of research and its relevance to society as a whole.
The workshop aimed to increase delegates’ knowledge about how some communities are marginalised in research so that they can better support researchers.
Twenty-five members of the public, including members of the Oxford and Oxford Health BRCs’ Diversity in Research Group and six facilitators came together to take part in the event on 29 July.
The event was organised by the Oxford and Oxford Health BRCs in partnership with the Horizon 2020 project ALLINTERACT: Widening and diversifying citizen engagement in science. Pavel Ovseiko, who designed the workshop together with the two BRCs’ patient and public involvement leads, Rachel Taylor and Alexandra Almeida, said: “To help public contributors become ‘citizen experts’, we have developed a new format for this workshop: instead of giving conventional talks and presentations to public contributors, we facilitated active learning and sharing of knowledge by public contributors themselves.”
The workshop highlighted that often, research does not consider differences between people, and as a result not all people are treated the same. This can lead to inequalities in research and its associated outcomes for the wider population.
This event focused on three areas – gender, ethnicity and neurodiversity – and the benefits and challenges of including people from diverse communities in research. Delegates were divided into five small groups with a dedicated facilitator. They critically reviewed the academic evidence and discussed barriers and solutions to involvement. They then presented their key learnings and discussion points to colleagues from other groups.
One of the contributors at the event was Susan Thwaite. A member of the patient advisory group at the Church Street Clinic in Wantage, she found the event extremely useful: “I would like the work that is carried out by our patient advisory group in Wantage to be more reflective of the community we represent.
“Today’s event has given me a clearer understanding of what that means and how to approach the subject of inclusion in our work. Today has been a fantastic networking opportunity and important learning experience for me.”
One of the facilitators, Jo Brett, a reader at Oxford Brookes University and researcher into cancer survivorship, said: “I am currently doing a study looking at improving bowel cancer screening in the Southeast Asian community. I have been facilitating the group on what ethnic diversity within teams means and looking at the benefits and challenges faced when diversity comes together in a team, as well as what researchers can do to try and improve the ethnic diversity in the work that they do.
“This event has been fantastic in educating the group on the broadness of what ethnic diversity means and how researchers can gain more ethnic diversity in the work that they do.”