George AS, Mehra V, Scott K, Sriram V (2015) Community Participation in Health Systems Research: A Systematic Review Assessing the State of Research, the Nature of Interventions Involved and the Features of Engagement with Communities. PLoS ONE 10(10): e0141091. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0141091
Community participation is a major principle of people centered health systems, with considerable research highlighting its intrinsic value and strategic importance. Existing reviews largely focus on the effectiveness of community participation with less attention to how community participation is supported in health systems intervention research.
This systematic review explores the extent, nature and quality of community participation in health systems intervention research in low- and middle-income countries.
It concludes that despite positive examples, community participation in health systems interventions was variable, with few being truly community directed. Future research should more thoroughly engage with community participation theory, recognize the power relations inherent in community participation, and be more realistic as to how much communities can participate and cognisant of who decides that.