A call to action for more disability-inclusive health policy and systems research

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BMJ Global Health


To date, the exclusion of people with disability participating in research has limited the evidence base informing health system strengthening policy and practice more generally, and addressing disability-related inequalities in access to health services and better health outcomes more particularly. Given that more than 1 billion people, or 16% of the world's population, have a disability, we may fail to respond to the needs of a large proportion of the population unless we are purposeful with inclusion. Our research in this area indicates that online qualitative methods can be effective in engaging under-represented groups and are essential to ensure their input into health policy and systems research. This has important implications for researchers whose responsibility it is to make all health research disability inclusive, for ethical and methodological reasons, so they do not perpetuate the under-representation of people with disability in health policy and systems research. Our paper puts forward several recommendations to facilitate more people with disability participating in health policy and systems research. By critically reflecting on a health system strengthening research project, in which we purposefully aimed to support the participation of people with disability, we identify lessons learnt and issues to consider when planning and conducting accessible research. We also propose a set of actions for moving the agenda forward.

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