An annotated and critical glossary of the terminology of inclusion in healthcare and health research

Publication authors

Shahid Islam, Neil Small


The importance of including members of the public has been accorded a significant position in health planning, service delivery and research. But this position masks a lack of clarity about terms that are used. This paper identifies terms that are in common use in the lexicon of community based involvement and engagement in health with the intention of clarifying meaning and thus reducing ambiguity. We define and distinguish between key terms related to inclusion, we consider the terminology attached to community processes and to the challenges of inclusion and we engage with the strengths and weaknesses of the commonly used metaphor of “a ladder of participation”. We wish to contribute to the clear communication of intentions, challenges and achievements in pursuing varied forms of inclusion in health.