Engaging the less-often-heard in public health research grant writing: a case study of co-production involving underserved migrant mothers in the UK.
Ogunlana K., Stevenson K., Ciftci Y., Knight M., Aldridge R., Stevenson F.
BACKGROUND: In the UK, one-in-three births are to a non-UK born woman. A gap exists in co-produced research to understand their experiences. The UK National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) defines co-production as "an approach in which researchers, practitioners, and members of the public work together, sharing power and responsibility". This project co-produced a grant proposal to improve maternity care for underserved migrant women in the UK. We reflect on transferrable learning for engaging those whose voices are less-often-heard in grant writing. METHODS: An expert by experience, an underserved migrant woman who had given birth in the UK, joined the research team. Four online engagement workshops were conducted; two involved only migrant women and two were multi-disciplinary. 26 underserved migrant women attended the online engagement workshops. NIHR INVOLVE guidance was consulted. FINDINGS: Women said they were often asked about negative experiences that felt disempowering, and rarely asked about solutions. Thus, our proposal will focus on co-designing solutions. Women felt that having an expert by experience co-host workshops encouraged engagement, so we integrated an expert into our methods. Women were uncomfortable in professional groups. Thus, our proposed steering and focus groups will have an expert by experience subgroup with elected members attending multi-disciplinary groups. We plan to engage mostly online as women preferred this method to enable flexibility with childcare. The lead expert by experience helped to form the proposal through brainstorming, co-drafting, and feedback; experts by experience commented on the draft via email and workshops. The lead expert by experience wished to gain further experience of research methods, for which we requested additional funding. INTERPRETATION: The findings from this project are limited and not fully representative of all migrant groups, as only migrant women who have given birth in the UK were engaged. However, the work has highlighted the immense potential for co-production in public health research, and the value of adapting how investigators plan research to maximise the voices of the less-often-heard. FUNDING: National Institute for Health and Care Research Design Service London Public Involvement Fund.