Open Access Research article

Community engagement in biomedical research in an African setting: the Kintampo Health Research Centre experience

Kwaku Poku Asante*, Charlotte Tawiah Agyemang, Charles Zandoh, Jacob Saah, Lawrence Gyabaa Febir, Casimir Kabio Donlebo and Seth Owusu-Agyei

Author Affiliations

Kintampo Health Research Centre, Ghana Health Service, P. O. Box 200, Kintampo, Brong Ahafo Region, Ghana

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BMC Health Services Research 2013, 13:383  doi:10.1186/1472-6963-13-383

Published: 3 October 2013



Community engagement (CE) is becoming relevant in health research activities; however, models for CE in health research are limited in developing countries. The Kintampo Health Research Centre (KHRC) conducts research to influence health policy locally and also internationally. Since its establishment in 1994 with the mandate of conducting relevant public health studies in the middle part of Ghana, KHRC has embarked on a series of clinical and operational studies involving community members. In these studies, community members have been engaged through community durbars before, during and also after all study implementations. Lessons learnt from these activities suggested the need to embark on further CE processes that could serve as a model for emerging research institutions based in African communities.


Interactive community durbars, workshops, in-depth discussions, focus group discussions and radio interactions were used as the main methods in the CE process.


Community members outlined areas of research that they perceived as being of interest to them. Though community members expressed continual interest in our traditional areas of research in communicable, maternal, neonatal and child health, they were interested in new areas such as non- communicable diseases such as diabetes and hypertension. Misconceptions about KHRC and its research activities were identified and clarified. This research provided KHRC the opportunity to improve communication guidelines with the community and these are being used in engaging the community at various stages of our research, thus improving on the design and implementation of research.


KHRC has developed a culturally appropriate CE model based on mutual understanding with community members. The experience obtained in the CE process has contributed to building CE capacity in KHRC. Other health research institutions in developing countries could consider the experiences gained.

Community; Engagement; Health; Research; Ghana