Participation of childbearing international migrant women in research: The ethical balance

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Abstract

Fear of burdening or harming childbearing, migrant women, particularly refugees or others who have experienced war, torture, abuse, or rape, can result in their exclusion from research. This exclusion prohibits health issues and related solutions to be identified for this population. For this reason, while it may be challenging to include these women in studies, it is ethically problematic not to do so. Using ethical guidelines for research involving humans as a framework, and drawing on our research experiences. This discussion article proposes a number of strategies to improve the conditions for childbearing migrant women to participate in health research. What emerged as key for studying this diverse population and ensuring an ethically responsible approach are the use of methods that are adapted to the circumstances of childbearing migrant women and the involvement and support from “migrant-friendly” organizations. Ensuring migrant women are involved in the research process and knowledge produced is also critical. The more researchers working in this field communicate their experiences, the more will be learnt about how best to approach research with migrants. More migration and health research will enable a greater contribution to the knowledge base upon which the needs of this population can be met and their strengths maximized.

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