EcoHealth

, Volume 2, Issue 2, pp 113–126 | Cite as

Network Approach for Analyzing and Promoting Equity in Participatory Ecohealth Research

  • Frédéric Mertens
  • Johanne Saint-Charles
  • Donna Mergler
  • Carlos José Passos
  • Marc Lucotte
Article

Abstract

Effective involvement and equity in participation between men and women and the various community groups are likely to influence the equity in the sharing of the development outcomes of any participatory research project. The CARUSO project, a participatory research based on the ecosystem approach to human health, showed that the inhabitants from Brasília Legal, a small village located on the river banks of the Tapajós river in the Brazilian Amazon, are exposed to mercury through fish consumption; a subsequent participatory intervention based on dietary changes was effective in reducing mercury exposure of the population. In the present study, we focus on equity in participation and analyze the discussion network about mercury and health to measure individual and group involvement in the community. Participation in the discussion network is associated with the awareness of the critical information necessary to allow the individual to change dietary habits toward the preferential consumption of the less contaminated fish species. Our network analysis shows that gender, age, religion, education, subsistence activities, and spatial distribution of the houses are key elements affecting the involvement of the population in discussions about mercury and health. Based on these results, we propose strategies for integrating the research results and the knowledge of the villagers in a new cycle of participatory research in order to address the lack of involvement of some groups and to promote equitable participation and benefit sharing.

Key words

Amazon community equity mercury participatory research social networks 

Notes

Acknowledgments

We express our deep gratitude to the population of Brasília Legal for their welcome and their participation and collaboration in the accomplishment of this work. We gratefully acknowledge all the researchers who participated in the CARUSO studies from 1994 up to now. The present study would not have taken place without their previous work. For their invaluable conversations and comments about the CARUSO project, we also thank Marcello Bahia, Ana Amelia Peixoto Boischio, Fernando Branches, Robert Davidson, Otávio do Canto, Nicolina Farella, Myriam Fillion, Benoît Frenette, Elisete Gaspar, Jean-Rémy Guimarães, Mélanie Lemire, Silmara Morais, Jean-Paul Piéraut, Hugo Poirier, Stéphanie Premji, Marc Roulet, and Delaine Sampaio. We are also indebted to two anonymous reviewers who significantly contributed to the final version of the manuscript. This work was financially supported by the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) of Canada.

References

  1. Amorim, MIM, Mergler, D, Bahia, MO, Dubeau, H, Miranda, D, Lebel, J,  et al. 2000Cytogenetic damage related to low levels of methylmercury contamination in the Brazilian AmazonAnais da Academia Brasileira de Ciências72497507PubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. Ball, AL, Rana, S, Dehne, KL 1998HIV prevention among injecting drug users: responses in developing and transitional countriesPublic Health Reports113170181Google Scholar
  3. Biggs S (1989) Resource-poor farmer participation in research: a synthesis of experiences from nine National Agricultural Research Systems. In: OFCOR Comparative Study Paper No. 3. The Hague, Netherlands: International Service for National Agricultural Research, pp 3–37Google Scholar
  4. Biggs, S, Matsaert, H 1999An actor-oriented approach for strengthening research and development capabilities in natural resource systemsPublic Administration and Development19231262CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Borgatti SP (2002) NetDraw: Graph Visualization Software, Harvard, MA: Analytic TechnologiesGoogle Scholar
  6. Borgatti, SP, Everett, MG, Freeman, LC 2002UCINET for Windows: Software for Social Network AnalysisAnalytic TechnologiesHarvard, MAGoogle Scholar
  7. Boulay, M, Valente, TW 1999The relationship of social affiliation and interpersonal discussion to family planning knowledge, attitudes and practiceInternational Family Planning Perspective25112118Google Scholar
  8. Chant, S 2000From ‘woman-blind’ to ‘man-kind’: should men have more space in gender and development?IDS Bulletin31717CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Cornwall, A 2003Whose voices? Whose choices? Reflections on gender and participatory developmentWorld Development3113251342CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Cornwall, A, Jewkes, R 1995What is participatory research?Social Science & Medicine4116671676Google Scholar
  11. Koning, K, Martin, M 1996Participatory research in health: setting the contextKoning, KMartin, M eds. Participatory Research in Health: Issues and ExperiencesZen Books Ltd.London118Google Scholar
  12. Forget, G, Lebel, J 2001An ecosystem approach to human healthInternational Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health7136PubMedGoogle Scholar
  13. Freeman, LC 2004The Development of Social Network AnalysisEmpirical PressVancouverGoogle Scholar
  14. Frieze, IH, Fisher, J, Hanusa, B, McHugh, M, Valle, VA 1978Attributions of success and failure as internal and external barriers to achievement in womenSherman, JDenmark, F eds. Psychology of Women: Future Directions of ResearchPsychological DimensionsNew York519552Google Scholar
  15. Grandjean, P, Weihe, P, White, RF, Debes, F, Araki, S, Yokoyama, K,  et al. 1997Cognitive deficit in 7-year-old children with prenatal exposure to methylmercuryNeurotoxicology and Teratology19417428CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  16. Grandjean, P, White, RF, Nielsen, A, Cleary, D, Oliveira Santos, EC 1999Methylmercury neurotoxicity in Amazonian children downstream from gold miningEnvironmental Health Perspectives107587591PubMedGoogle Scholar
  17. Guimarães, JR, Meili, M, Hylander, LD, Castro e Silva, E, Roulet, M, Mauro, JB,  et al. 2000Mercury net methylation in five tropical flood plain regions of Brazil: high in the root zone of floating macrophyte mats but low in surface sediments and flooded soilsThe Science of the Total Environment26199107CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  18. Kegler, MC, Stern, R, Whitecrow-Ollis, S, Malcoe, LH 2003Assessing lay health advisor activity in an intervention to prevent lead poisoning in Native American childrenHealth Promotion Practice4189196CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  19. Kincaid, DL 2000Social networks, ideation, and contraceptive behavior in Bangladesh: a longitudinal analysisSocial Science & Medicine50215231Google Scholar
  20. Kincaid, DL 2004From innovation to social norm: bounded normative influenceJournal of Health Communication93757PubMedGoogle Scholar
  21. Lebel, J 2003Health, an Ecosystem ApproachInternational Development Research CentreOttawaGoogle Scholar
  22. Lebel, J, Mergler, D, Branches, F, Lucotte, M, Amorim, M, Larribe, F,  et al. 1998Neurotoxic effects of low-level methylmercury contamination in the Amazonian BasinEnvironmental Research792032CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  23. Lebel, J, Roulet, M, Mergler, D, Lucotte, M, Larribe, F 1997Fish diet and mercury exposure in a riparian Amazonian populationWater, Air, & Soil Pollution973144Google Scholar
  24. Levy-Storms, L, Wallace, SP 2003Use of mammography screening among older Samoan women in Los Angeles county: a diffusion network approachSocial Science & Medicine579871000Google Scholar
  25. Maguire, P 1987Doing Participatory Research: a Feminist ApproachCenter for International Education, University of MassachusettsAmherst, MAGoogle Scholar
  26. Mayoux, L 1995Beyond naivety: women, gender inequality and participatory developmentDevelopment and Change26235258CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Mergler, D, Boischio, AA, Branches, F, Morais, S, Passos, C-J, Gaspar, E,  et al. 2001Neurotoxic sequelae of methylmercury exposure in the Brazilian Amazon: a follow-up study. Abstract of the 6th International Conference on Mercury as a Global PollutantMinamata InstituteKumamoto, JapanGoogle Scholar
  28. Mosse, D 1994Authority, gender and knowledge: theoretical reflections on the practice of participatory rural appraisalDevelopment and Change25497526Google Scholar
  29. Parkes, M, Panelli, R 2001Integrating catchment ecosystems and community health: the value of participatory action researchEcosystem Health785106CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Probst K, Hagmann J, with contributions from Fernandez M, Ashby JA (2003) Understanding participatory research in the context of natural resource management—paradigms, approaches and typologies. Agricultural Research & Extension Network, Network Paper No. 130. London: Overseas Development Institute. Available: http://www.odi.org.uk/agren/papers/agrenpaper_130.pdf [accessed August 18, 2004]
  31. Rogers, EM 1976Communication and development: the passing of the dominant paradigmRogers, EM eds. Communication and DevelopmentSageLondon121148Google Scholar
  32. Rogers, EM 1995Diffusion of Innovations4Free PressNew YorkGoogle Scholar
  33. Rogers, EM, Kincaid, DL 1981Communication Networks: toward a New Paradigm for ResearchFree PressNew YorkGoogle Scholar
  34. Röling, NG, Ascroft, J, Chege, FW 1976The diffusion of innovations and the issue of equity in rural developmentRogers, EM eds. Communication and DevelopmentSageLondon6379Google Scholar
  35. Roulet, M, Lucotte, M, Canuel, R, Farella, N, Courcelles, M, Guimarães, JRD,  et al. 2000Increase in mercury contamination recorded in lacustrine sediments following deforestation in the central AmazonChemical Geology165243266CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Roulet, M, Lucotte, M, Farella, N, Serique, G, Coelho, H, Passos, C-JS,  et al. 1999Effects of recent human colonization on the presence of mercury in Amazonian ecosystemsWater, Air & Soil Pollution112297313Google Scholar
  37. Saint-Charles, J, Mongeau, P 2005L’étude des réseaux humains de communicationSaint-Charles, JMongeau, P eds. Communication—Horizons de pratiques et de recherchePresses de l’Université du QuébecMontréal7399Google Scholar
  38. Shingi, PM, Mody, B 1976The communication effects gap: a field experiment on television and agricultural ignorance in IndiaRogers, EM eds. Communication and DevelopmentSageLondon7999Google Scholar
  39. Valente, TW 1995Network Models of the Diffusion of InnovationsHampton PressCresskill, NJGoogle Scholar
  40. Valente, TW, Hoffman, BR, Ritt-Olson, A, Lichtman, K, Johnson, CA 2003Effects of a social-network method for group assignment strategies on peer-led tobacco prevention programs in schoolsAmerican Journal of Public Health9318371843PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Valente, TW, Watkins, SC, Jato, MN, Straten, A, Tsitsol, L-PM 1997Social network associations with contraceptive use among Cameroonian women in voluntary associationsSocial Science & Medicine45677687Google Scholar
  42. Wasserman, S, Faust, K 1994Social Network Analysis—Methods and ApplicationsCambridge University PressCambridgeGoogle Scholar
  43. Wellman, B 1988Structural analysis: from method and metaphor to theory and substanceWellman, BBerkowitz, SD eds. Social Structures—A Network ApproachJAI PressGreenwich, CT1961Google Scholar
  44. Watts, DJ 2003Six Degrees—The Science of a Connected AgeW. W. Norton & CompanyNew YorkGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© EcoHealth Journal Consortium 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Frédéric Mertens
    • 1
    • 2
  • Johanne Saint-Charles
    • 2
    • 3
  • Donna Mergler
    • 2
  • Carlos José Passos
    • 2
  • Marc Lucotte
    • 4
  1. 1.Centro de Desenvolvimento SustentávelUniversidade de BrasíliaBrazil
  2. 2.Centre d’Études des Interactions Biologiques entre la Santé et l’Environnement (CINBIOSE)Université du Québec à MontréalMontréalCanada
  3. 3.Département des CommunicationsUniversité du Québec à MontréalMontréalCanada
  4. 4.GEOTOP, Institut des Sciences de l’EnvironnementUniversité du Québec à MontréalMontréalCanada

Personalised recommendations