Volume 17 - Article 13 | Pages 369–388  

The implications of long term community involvement for the production and circulation of population knowledge

By Sangeetha Madhavan, Mark Collinson, Nicholas W. Townsend, Kathleen Kahn, Stephen Tollman


Demographic surveillance systems (DSS) depend on community acceptance and involvement to produce high quality longitudinal data. Ensuring community support also exposes power relations usually concealed in the research process. We discuss the Agincourt Health and Demographic Surveillance System in South Africa to argue that: 1) long-term presence and community involvement contribute to high response rates and data quality, 2) to maintain community support the project must demonstrate its usefulness, 3) reporting to community members provides valuable checks on the local relevance and comprehension of questions, and 4) community opinion can modify both wording and content of research questions.

Author's Affiliation

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