Health service delivery should ensure ethical principles are observed at all levels of healthcare. Working towards this goal requires understanding the ethics-related priorities and concerns in the day-to-day activities among different health practitioners. These practitioners include community health workers (CHWs) who are involved in healthcare delivery in communities in many low-and middle-income countries such as Uganda. In this study, we used photovoice, an innovative community based participatory research method that uses photography, to examine CHWs’ perspectives on ethical concerns in their work.
We explored perspectives of 10 CHWs (5 females and 5 males) on ethical dimensions of their work for 5 months using photovoice in a rural community in Wakiso district, Uganda. As part of the study, we: 1. Oriented CHWs on photovoice research and ethics; 2. Asked CHWs to take photographs of key ethical dimensions of their work; 3. Held monthly meetings to discuss and reflect on the photos; and 4. Disseminated the findings. The discussions from the monthly meetings were audio recorded, transcribed, and emerging data analysed using conventional content analysis with the help of Atlas ti version 6.0.15.
CHWs were aware of and highly concerned about the need to observe ethical principles while carrying out their roles. The ethical principles CHWs were aware of and endeavoured to observe during their work were: maintaining professional integrity and abiding by ethical principles of practice; ethical responsibility in patient care; maintaining confidentiality while handling clients; respect for persons and communities; and enhancing their knowledge and skills for better practice. However, CHWs also identified challenges concerning their observance of ethical principles including: low commitment to their work due to other obligations; availability of some reference materials and guidelines in English yet majority could only read in the local language; and minimal avenues for knowledge enhancement such as trainings.
CHWs were aware of and keen to discuss ethical issues in their work. However, there is need to address the challenges they face so as to facilitate observing ethical principles during the course of their work in communities.