Funding for this research was provided by:
World Bank Group
Received: 24 October 2016
Accepted: 27 November 2017
First Online: 8 December 2017
Ethics approval and consent to participate
: This research was approved by the full board of the Institutional Review Board (IRB) at the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH), effective January 28, 2011. The OHRA# is 20,026–101. In addition, a Community Advisory Board (CAB) of Congolese subject matter experts was convened for this project. The CAB was comprised of mental health professionals and NGO leaders working on stigma issues. The purpose of the CAB was to provide a local review of the research plan and to provide feedback on the protocols and questionnaires. All members of the research team underwent training in ethical research practices before carrying out the study.Focus group participants gave verbal consent to participate and for their anonymised data to be disseminated. A detailed introductory consent script was read before participation in any research activities emphasising the voluntary nature of the research. In addition, assent as specifically sought for permission to record interviews. Moderators explained that these recordings would be used to create transcripts, which would be directly used in the research without attribution to a specific individual. Verbal rather than written informed consent was sought because participants in the research were overwhelmingly illiterate and would not have been able to read written consent scripts. The research team deemed it was inappropriate to ask them to sign their name (which is not a common practice in this setting) on a document that would not have been not understandable to the participants. This practice was approved by the HSPH IRB.All focus groups were conducted in a private setting and participants underwent a thorough introduction to the session that emphasised the importance of keeping the topics discussed in the research confidential.
: The authors declare that they have no competing interests
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