Research & Engagement Principles

Research & Engagement Principles

1. Rationale

1.1 As an organization dedicated to strengthening the health and wellness of gay men through trusted, tailored, targeted health promotion, Health Initiative for Men recognizes its role in fostering mutually beneficial relationships between researchers and gay men.

1.2 In creating this document, Health Initiative for Men acknowledges its responsibility to address the need for protocols for both academic and corporate institutions seeking to conduct health research and/or knowledge translation to gay men and other men who have sex with men (OMSM).

1.3 Researchers are knowledge brokers, people who have the power to construct legitimating arguments for or against ideas, theories or practices. They are collectors of information and producers of meaning, which can be used for, or against gay men and OMSM.

1.4 Institutions, both public and private, have the power to affect the health and wellness of gay men and OMSM, by promoting certain beliefs and assumptions, through research findings and knowledge transfer.

1.5 Health Initiative for Men offers our collective expertise to ensure that the community of gay men is approached in a way that is likely to be maximally effective in the conduct of your research and the dissemination of the resultant information.

1.6 While Research Ethics Boards protect the rights of human research subjects, this protocol outlines a process for providing meaningful and respectful consultation with gay men and OMSM, before engaging in research or knowledge transfer that affects them.

2. Leading by Example

At the Health Initiative for Men we:

Use local research from surveys such as Sex Now and Mancount, as well as research done in other jurisdictions to inform our campaigns, our services and our approach

Engage the community using in-house surveys, focus groups, community consultations and evaluations to further our health promotion reach and ensure our services are aligned with current needs and trends

Establish research priorities for the organization and work with researchers to ensure best results, including the development of research questions, recruitment of research participants and knowledge transfer

Work with communities to provide them access to research and up-to-date information about their health through our health promotion and knowledge transfer services

3. Our Principles

3.1 Gay men have the right to knowledge that allows them to make the most informed decisions

3.2 Gay men have a right to health and a role in deciding the manner in which healthcare services are delivered to them

3.3 Effective health promotion and service delivery engages the community and maintains relationships with community leaders and stakeholders

3.4 Research (including knowledge transfer) is a necessary component to health promotion that is most effective when conducted in a respectful and culturally appropriate manner

4. Our Approach

4.1 Research that involves gay men and OMSM as a focal interest (subject matter), whether directly or indirectly, should ensure that research protocols uphold the Guiding Principles of Community-Based Research, as outlined in the document titled “Communities Creating Knowledge – A Consensus Statement on Community-Based Research”

4.2 Research Involving Communities

4.2.1 Community benefit – Research involving communities is research conducted by and for communities. Its purpose is to build community capacities that will provide knowledge with which to improve community conditions.

4.2.2 Capacity building – In its conduct, research involving communities promotes and develops the inquiry skills of all participants. The aim of research involving communities is to build sustainable capacities within communities for self-informed, self-transpired transformation.

4.2.3 Collaboration – A community’s experience is a resource that belongs to the community. As such, research initiatives should invite community participation as early as possible in their formation, to shape cooperative agreements about ethical issues, the treatment of data and the dissemination of findings.

4.2.4 Equity – Research involving communities entails a special relationship between observers and observed, by involving participants in analysis of their own collective condition. In order to ensure respect, dignity and empowerment, relations between those conducting research and those participating must be negotiated in a collaborative spirit of equity.

4.2.5 Inclusion – Research involving communities is broadly inclusive of community members in all its phases: the review of proposals, construction of protocols, collection of data, interpretation of results and dissemination of findings.

4.2.6 Accessibility – Community participation in the development of knowledge is a form of literacy work that builds capacities for collaborative inquiry. In this way, the language and methods used in the conduct of research involving communities must be broadly accessible to its diverse range of participants, because their research skills form the basis of community transformation.

4.2.7 Empowerment – The conduct of research, the data it generates and the results it produces are tools of the community’s empowerment and must be honored as such in all transactions. Community participants should be encouraged to conduct their own inquires and contribute findings to ongoing efforts to advance new knowledge.

HIM Research and Evaluation Committee Considerations

The HIM Research and Evaluation Committee will address the following considerations when determining whether or not to engage in a research project.

1) Does the applicant have a previous relationship with the Health Initiative for Men?

2) Does this researcher have a good reputation and references?

3) Does the researcher have realistic expectations?

4) Does the proposal fit with our mission of strengthening the health and well-being of gay men?

5) Is the research congruent with the organization’s research objectives? Goals?

6) What benefit does this research have for HIM? For gay men?

7) Are there any potentially negative consequences or risks involved with this research?

8) Will involvement in this research positively or negatively impact our reputation?

9) What leverage do we have if the MOU/MOA is not followed? How do we ensure compliance?

10) Which staff member will be the lead for this project?