Trials and tribulations of conducting interventional studies in urban slums of a developing country: Experiences from Kolkata, India
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© 2016, Tanmay Mahapatra, Sanchita Mahapatra, Debottam Pal, Jayanta Saha, AnnaLena Lopez, Mohammad Ali, Barnali Bannerjee, Byomkesh Manna, Dipika Sur, Sujit Bhattacharya, and Suman Kanungo. Experimental studies involving human subjects provide most internally valid evidences in epidemiological research due to their robust methodology. While conducting populationbased interventional studies, to achieve external validity, inclusion of information from vulnerable groups like urban slum-dwellers of the developing world, in the epidemiological estimates is of paramount importance. The challenges faced while conducting 2 consecutive large-scale, community-based vaccine trials in urban slums of Kolkata, India are presented in this article. Interventions in these communities often get constrained by issues pertaining to human rights and benefits, socio-cultural factors, political environment, methodological shortcomings in addition to the challenges in ensuring community participation. While conducting these trials although we intermittently faced obstacles, by virtue of having a long term and robust surveillance system and developing a trusted relationship between the researchers, community leaders and residents we were able to come up with a commendable community participation which culminated into the success of the interventions. Bridging the gap between research and field operations by incorporating knowledge gathered from interventional studies and making strategies to improve health conditions of these informal settlers is a major unfulfilled agenda. We believe the lessons learnt during our research will help researchers while developing efficient interventions in similar setting.
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