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Trust and the ethical conduct of community-engaged research

Dmitry Khodyakov, Lisa Mikesell, Elizabeth Bromley


Background: Community-engaged research (CEnR) emphasizes equal participation of academic and community partners in research and seeks to improve public trust in science. Unfortunately, there is a dearth of rigorous empirical research on trust as a core component of ethical conduct of CEnR. Drawing on data collected from a project on the ethics of CEnR, this paper discusses the benefits and risks of trust and uses the concept of embeddedness to explain how public trust in science may be increased.

Argument: We argue that in developing and maintaining trust, partners must balance scientific rigor with community relevance and cultural appropriateness of research. They must strike a balance between working with the same limited pool of trusted partners, which can speed research but slow wider acceptance of science and extending their trust to new partners, which can broaden acceptance of science but slow research.

Conclusion: Practitioners may facilitate the development of trust in science by gradually expanding the pool of partners they choose their collaborators from.


Community-engaged research, community partners, cultural competency, embeddedness, health services research, person-centered healthcare, research ethics, respect, trust, trustworthy relationships

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