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Using the Drama of DNA approach to community engagement in genomic research in South Africa: experiences and lessons learnt

Sciprofile linkMarlyn C. Faure, Ambroise Wonkam, Sciprofile linkJantina De Vries
Published: 21 February 2020
AAS Open Research , Volume 3; doi:10.12688/aasopenres.13045.1

Abstract: In the context of African genomics research, community engagement has emerged as a powerful means to enhance genomic education of the public and anticipate ethical challenges in relation to increasing genomic research on the African continent. We report our experiences of using narrative genomics, a drama-based community engagement method, to engage scientific and lay communities about ethical and social challenges related to the return of individual genetic research results in genomic research. The method uses set scripts, which audience members act out and thereafter engage in a series of ethical dilemmas presented in the script. In this paper, we describe the steps we took to change the original scripts to make them more suitable for a South African audience. We found the method to be relatively effective at engaging audiences in South Africa. While the changes in the South African versions appear minor, through our experience in trying to change the scripts to make them relatable to a South African audience, we observed that were limits to how much of the script we could change if the narrative was still to be effective as a community engagement method. While this method and the original scripts are incredibly helpful, new scripts must be developed for African audiences, and these could potentially be more impactful as a community engagement tool in different local contexts.
Keywords: audience / community engagement / African / Scripts / ethical / South / Genomic Research

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