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Participatory approaches in the development of health interventions for migrants: a systematic review

Rustage, K., Crawshaw, A., Majeed-Hajaj, S. , Deal, A., Nellums, L., Ciftci, Y., Fuller, S. S., Goldsmith, L. ORCID: 0000-0002-6934-1925, Friedland, J. S. & Hargreaves, S. (2021). Participatory approaches in the development of health interventions for migrants: a systematic review. BMJ Open, 11(10), article number e053678. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2021-053678


Objective Analysis of participatory approaches to developing health interventions for migrants and how approaches embody core participatory principles of inclusivity and democracy.

Design A systematic review of original articles. Electronic searches within the databases MEDLINE, Embase, Global Health and PsychINFO (from inception—November 2020).

Eligibility criteria for study selection Original peer-reviewed articles reporting research to develop and implement a health intervention for migrants, incorporating participatory approaches. We defined migrants as foreign-born individuals. Only articles reporting the full research cycle (inception, design, implementation, analysis, evaluation, dissemination) were included.

Data extraction We extracted information related to who was involved in research (migrants or other non-academic stakeholders), the research stage at which they were involved (inception, design, implementation, analysis, evaluation, dissemination), the method of their involvement and how this aligned with the core principles of participatory research—categorising studies as exhibiting active or pseudo (including proxy and indirect) participation.

Results 1793 publications were screened, of which 28 were included in our analysis. We found substantial variation in the application of participatory approaches in designing health interventions targeting migrants: across 168 individual research stages analysed across the 28 studies, we recorded 46 instances of active participation of migrants, 30 instances of proxy participation and 24 instances of indirect participation. All studies involved non-academic stakeholders in at least one stage of the research, only two studies exhibited evidence of active participation of migrants across all research stages. Evidence is limited due to the variability of terms and approaches used.

Conclusions Important shortfalls in the meaningful inclusion of migrants in developing health interventions exist, suggesting a more rigorous and standardised approach is warranted to better define and deliver participatory research and improve quality.

Registration This review followed Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis guidelines and is registered on the Open Science Framework (

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: © Author(s) (or their employer(s)) 2021. Re-use permitted under CC BY. Published by BMJ. is an open access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 Unported (CC BY 4.0) license, which permits others to copy, redistribute, remix, transform and build upon this work for any purpose, provided the original work is properly cited, a link to the licence is given, and indication of whether changes were made. See:
Subjects: J Political Science > JV Colonies and colonization. Emigration and immigration. International migration
R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine > RA0421 Public health. Hygiene. Preventive Medicine
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Nursing
SWORD Depositor:
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