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Research for Health Justice: an ethical framework linking global health research to health equity
  1. Bridget Pratt
  1. School of Population and Global Health, University of Melbourne, Carlton, Victoria, Australia
  1. Correspondence to Dr Bridget Pratt; bridget.pratt{at}


Global health research should generate new knowledge to improve the health and well-being of those considered disadvantaged and marginalised. This goal motivates much of the global health research being undertaken today. Yet simply funding and conducting global health research will not necessarily generate the knowledge needed to help reduce health disparities between and within countries. Global health research grants programmes and projects must be structured in a particular way to generate that type of information. But how exactly should they be designed to do so? Through a programme of ethics research starting in 2009, an ethical framework called Research for Health Justice was developed that provides guidance to global health researchers and funders on how to design research projects and grants programmes to promote global health equity. It provides guidance on, for example, what research populations and questions ought to be selected, what research capacity strengthening ought to be performed and what post-study benefits ought to be provided. This paper describes how the ‘research for health justice’ framework was generated and pulls together a body of work spanning the last decade to provide a comprehensive and up-to-date version of its guidance.

  • health services research
  • public health

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  • Handling editor Stephanie M Topp

  • Contributors BP conceived of the work and made substantial contributions to the conceptual analysis described in this paper. BP drafted the paper and gave final approval of the version to be published.

  • Funding BP is currently supported by a University of Melbourne R Douglas Wright Research Fellowship and a Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences Bridging Fellowship. During the course of the research described in this paper, BP was supported by an Australian National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Early Career Sidney Sax Public Health Overseas Fellowship (Award No. 1052346) and an Australian Research Council (ARC) Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (Award No. DE170100414). BP was also supported by Future Health Systems, which was funded by the UK Department for International Development, and by an Australian Postgraduate Award scholarship (2009–2012) from the Australian Federal Government and Monash University. The contents of this article are solely the responsibility of the author and do not reflect the views of the NHMRC or the ARC. The NHMRC, the ARC and Future Health Systems did not play any role in the study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish or preparation of the manuscript.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data availability statement Data are available upon request.

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