Promoting the Participation of “Hard-to-Reach” Migrant Populations in Qualitative Public Health Research during the COVID-19 Pandemic in Chile
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The COVID-19 pandemic has further deepened socioeconomic and health inequities worldwide, especially among populations experiencing social vulnerability, such as international migrants. Sustained lockdowns and social distancing have raised challenges to conducting public health research with hard-to-reach populations. This study aims at exploring strategies to recruit “hard-to-reach” international migrants for qualitative public health research during the pandemic in Chile, based on the authors’ experience. A retrospective qualitative evaluation process was carried out on the recruitment processes of three qualitative research projects focused on international migrants in Chile. All projects were implemented during the COVID-19 pandemic, demanding complementary and flexible strategies: (i) social media; (ii) snowball sampling; (iii) referrals from social workers and pro-migrant and migrant-led organizations; (iv) vaccination centers and healthcare centers; and (v) community-based recruitment. The strategies are qualitatively evaluated around seven emerging qualitative categories: (i) feasibility during lockdown periods; (ii) speed of recruitment; (iii) geographical coverage; (iv) sample diversity; (v) proportion of successful interviews; (vi) ethical considerations; and (vii) cost. Engaging hard-to-reach international migrants in public health research during the pandemic required constantly adapting recruitment strategies. Furthermore, relying on strategies that were not only Internet-based promoted the participation of populations with limited access to the Internet and low-digital literacy.
Public health research , Qualitative research , Hard-to-reach populations , International migrants , COVID-19 pandemic , Chile
Blukacz, A.; Cabieses, B.; Obach, A.; Calderón, A.C.; Álvarez, M.I.; Madrid, P.; Rada, I. Promoting the Participation of “Hard-to-Reach” Migrant Populations in Qualitative Public Health Research during the COVID-19 Pandemic in Chile. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2023, 20, 1956. https://doi.org/10.3390/ ijerph20031956