Using arts-based methods to explore recruitment and engagement with multi-generational Black Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) communities into health research

Over the course of the life of our Institutional Strategic Support Fund Award, we will be endeavoring to share insights into the novel projects funded and supported through our schemes.

The following is an introduction to a Discipline Bridges scheme project...

Leicester through the life course; using arts based methods to explore recruitment and engagement with multi generational communities

by Manbinder Sidhu, Kamlesh Khunti, Andrew Willis, Manish Pareek, Nicola Mackintosh and Polly Wright

Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) groups are at greater risk of developing co-morbidities and more likely to report poor health outcomes compared to the White British population. However, they are less likely to participate in health-related research. Our aim was to investigate how BAME communities’ interpretations towards co-morbidities influence decisions to participate in research and create a training package for researchers to facilitate diversity in involvement.

Members from BAME communities were invited to attend a single workshop to share experiences (if any) of participating in health research. We utilised an arts based method of creating “corporate” characters to understand biographical and social-environmental implications towards research participation. We developed three character monologues which were performed by professional actors for a training seminar using a theatre forum approach. Researchers watched performances, asked questions to actors in character, and reflected on their own practices to engage BAME communities. Mono1.JPG

Seventeen members from Indian Guajarati and Pakistani Muslim communities attended one of two workshops. Eight researchers attended the training seminar. Members of BAME communities felt current methods of engagement were suited to retired, knowledgeable individuals, prepared to make lifestyle changes, with access to wider supportive social networks. Those less likely to engage were younger people, isolated, with significant family/work responsibilities, and poor relationships with health care professionals.

Our character monologues covered the following themes: stereotyping, stigma, communication with health professionals and researchers, and reaching out to target populations. Feedback from researchers stated the training seminar and method used were highly relevant and useful to their research, led to a better understanding of the reasons behind BAME (non) participation, and provided critical discussion for increasing diversity of involvement.

We concluded that arts based approaches can enable new understandings of barriers and facilitators towards engagement in research, and inform training to reach and retain BAME individuals within health research.




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The PI for the award is Professor Andrew Fry (, Director of Research and the Manager is Anna Harding, Assistant Registrar(