Our Centre in Manchester, UK has learnt the following lessons when trying to engage with, or recruit pregnant women for different communities into clinical studies:
- Many close knit and private communities can view health services that lie outside their community as "not for them". Approaching women via nurses, midwives or health services within their community can help to build bridges.
- There can be hesitancy or mistrust of large organisations; some communities ask why they are being "targeted" and why specifically their information is needed. This needs to be explained.
- In some communities, there is limited access to technology e.g. smartphones, internet, so a recruitment strategy won't work if it relies on these methods to spread/gather information. Women may have less access to these technologies than men. Dissemination of information via libraries and community centres may be more appropriate.
- There are many ways for people to self-identify; just because you perceive someone to be part of a community doesn't mean they perceive themselves in the same way. This also leads to women thinking that your study is "not for them".
- There are many social and cultural barriers as to why women from some communities may not engage with or participate in research. Taking the time to build bridges within the community and start to understand and address these barriers is key to building trust and long term working relationships.