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INTRODUCTION: Citizen science (CS) is an emerging approach in public health to harness the collective intelligence of individuals to augment traditional scientific efforts. However, citizens' viewpoint, especially the hard-to-reach population, is lacking in current outbreak-related literature. We aim to understand the awareness, readiness and feasibility of outbreak-related CS, including digitally enabled CS, in low-income and middle-income countries. METHODS: This mixed-method study was conducted in nine countries between October 2022 and June 2023. Recruitment through civil society targeted the general population, marginalised/indigenous groups, youth and community health workers. Participants (aged ≥18 years) completed a quantitative survey, and a subset participated in focus group discussions (FGDs). RESULTS: 2912 participants completed the survey and 4 FGDs were conducted in each country. Incorporating participants' perspectives, CS is defined as the practice of active public participation, collaboration and communication in all aspects of scientific research to increase public knowledge, create awareness, build trust and facilitate information flow between citizens, governments and scientists. In Bangladesh, Indonesia, the Philippines, Cameroon and Kenya, majority were unaware of outbreak-related CS. In India and Uganda, majority were aware but unengaged, while in Nepal and Zimbabwe, majority participated in CS before. Engagement approaches should consider different social and cultural contexts, while addressing incentivisation, attitudes and practicality factors. Overall, 76.0% expressed interest in digital CS but needed training to build skills and confidence. Digital CS was perceived as convenient, safer for outbreak-related activities and producing better quality and quantity of data. However, there were concerns over non-inclusion of certain groups, data security and unclear communication. CONCLUSION: CS interventions need to be relatable and address context-specific factors influencing CS participation. Digital CS has the potential to facilitate collaboration, but capacity and access issues must be considered to ensure inclusive and sustainable engagement.

Original publication




Journal article


BMJ Glob Health

Publication Date





cross-sectional survey, health policy, other infection, disease, disorder, or injury, public health, qualitative study, Humans, Adolescent, Adult, Citizen Science, Feasibility Studies, Community Participation, Focus Groups, Disease Outbreaks