Complexities and dilemmas in community consultation on the design of a research project logo in Malawi

Deborah Nyirenda, Kate Gooding, Wezzie Lora, Moses Kumwenda, Meredith McMorrow, Dean Everett, Nicola Desmond

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Background Community engagement on research design is widely highlighted as an important approach for ethical research. This article reports the experience of consulting with communities on the logo used for an influenza study in Malawi. The logo was designed for use on badges worn by study researchers, participant information sheets and other project documents, and could affect perceptions of the study and consequent engagement in the research. Methods Four focus group discussions were conducted with populations targeted by the influenza study: pregnant women, people with HIV, mothers and community members. The focus groups incorporated a participatory matrix exercise focusing on key themes emerging from the discussions such as: attractiveness, comprehension, acceptability and suggestions for improvement. Findings from the focus groups were analyzed according to these key themes. Results The consultation highlighted important benefits of discussion with communities on research design, including providing new perspectives and helping to avoid harm. For example, people living with HIV felt that one of the possible logos could increase stigma within communities. The experience also indicated potential challenges of consultation. In particular, there were contrasting perspectives among the groups, such that the consultation did not provide a clear answer about which logo should be selected. Conclusions Our experience adds to current evidence on community engagement by reporting on an area where there is less discussion of community consultation for design of a study logo. The consultation exercise reaffirmed the value of community engagement, but also the difficulty of relying on a brief consultation for decision-making in research design. Further ethical guidance is required on how to negotiate contradictory views during consultations.

Original languageBritish English
Article numbere0205737
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number10
StatePublished - 1 Oct 2018


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