Lessons learned from co-production in public health research: the MAMAH case study involving underserved migrant mothers in the UK.
Stevenson K., Ogunlana K., Alomari M., Agoropopoola R., Stevenson F., Knight M., Aldridge R.
BACKGROUND: Research suggests some migrant women are at increased risk of mortality and morbidity in the perinatal period; however, there is a gap in co-produced research to improve care. 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". We summarise learnings from our study, which aimed to co-produce solutions to improve maternity care for migrant women in the UK, by working with women to identify the most important research priorities. METHODS: We recruited 18 underserved migrant women living in the UK who had given birth in the UK within the past 15 years to create a patient advisory panel. They were recruited via national and local non-governmental organisations and snowball sampling using purposive methods to ensure representation from a range of backgrounds, including those who were refugees, asylum seekers, and undocumented. Underserved was defined as asylum seeking, refugee, undocumented, or low-income mothers (those who were experiencing homelessness or in receipt of welfare support). The women are involved in conceptualisation, analysis, and dissemination of the project. The project is a UK National Institute of Health and Care Research (NIHR) Doctoral Fellowship project lasting 3 years with a variety of research workstreams. FINDINGS: The research funding application process began in January, 2021, and the project was funded and began in November, 2022. The research team struggled to access comprehensive training on co-production, particularly in how to counter power dynamics. We appointed a Lead Patient Advisor who manages the relationship between the academics and the patient advisors. Additionally, we reimburse women's time, childcare, and travel. We have found that online meetings are preferable, as women do not need to travel or arrange childcare. We meet our patient advisory panel four times per year. Some women have been directly involved in research such as systematic review screening and qualitative interviewing and have been given research training. Our initial research priorities did not align with those of the women, and this helped us to reshape our work. Women said that having a Lead Patient Advisor made it easier to participate, particularly as some issues are traumatic. To mitigate this, we have offered support resources and debriefing. Using online interpreters has been challenging, and we have recently split into different language groups to maximise engagement. INTERPRETATION: Overall, as researchers, we have learned that taking a truly co-produced approach is time-consuming but has ensured our research prioritises the views of migrant women giving birth in the UK. FUNDING: National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR).