Faculty member in the College of Health Sciences, University of Ghana
Richard Appiah obtained his Ph.D. in health sciences with positive psychology from the North-West University, and an M.Phil. in clinical psychology from the University of Ghana. He is currently a faculty member and researcher in the College of Health Sciences at the University of Ghana. His research focuses on generating and evaluating contextually-appropriate positive psychology and health behavior change intervention programs for vulnerable population groups in sub-Saharan Africa. He collaborates with government agencies, community groups, and traditional authorities in these efforts. Prior to joining the University of Ghana, Dr Appiah was the lead implementer (mental health arm) on the Escaping Poverty (EP) project, collaborating with the Innovations for Poverty Action and Heifer Ghana, where he co-developed mental health and strengths-based intervention modules and led the implementation of the EP and related projects in 165 rural communities across four regions of Ghana. He also practised as a clinical psychologist at the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital in Accra for three years. His doctoral research project translated and validated the Twi versions of six selected mental health and well-being measures, and developed and evaluated a 10-session, two-hourly, once-weekly group-based multicomponent positive psychology intervention program (the Inspired Life Program), designed to promote mental health, build resilience, and increase vocational productivity of rural poor adults in Ghana.
When conducting research with populations from highly collectivistic, low literate, and socioeconomically-disadvantaged settings in sub-Saharan Africa, researchers, often unintentionally, apply the universal ethical guidelines (UEGs; e.g., the informed consent [IC]) to the local context without much consideration of the distinct sociocultural values, norms, and practices of the people. Generally, the Western individual-based and autonomy-oriented IC model conflicts with the African/Ghanaian collectivistic social orientation and presents several theoretical, ethico-cultural, and practical challenges when implemented in community-based research in the more collectivistically socially oriented context of Ghana and sub-Saharan Africa, more generally. Dr Appiah’s Postdoctoral Research Fellowship focuses on developing and evaluating diversified, context-appropriate IC frameworks that take into account both the basic principles of research ethics and the cultural norms, values, and practices akin to 16 main ethnic groups of Ghana. These frameworks are envisioned to prevent ethics dumping, safeguard the integrity of the research process, and nurture mutual collaboration and trust between researchers and the local population.