Abstract: Patient engagement (or patient and public involvement) in health research is becoming a requirement for many health research funders, yet many researchers have little or no experience in engaging patients as partners as opposed to research subjects. Additionally, many patients have no experience providing input on the research design or acting as a decision-making partner on a research team. Several potential risks exist when patient engagement is done poorly, despite best intentions. Some of these risks are that: (1) patients’ involvement is merely tokenism (patients are involved but their suggestions have little influence on how research is conducted); (2) engaged patients do not represent the diversity of people affected by the research; and, (3) research outcomes lack relevance to patients’ lives and experiences.
Qualitative health research (the collection and systematic analysis of non-quantitative data about peoples’ experiences of health or illness and the healthcare system) offers several approaches that can help to mitigate these risks. Several qualitative health research methods, when done well, can help research teams to: (1) accurately incorporate patients’ perspectives and experiences into the design and conduct of research; (2) engage diverse patient perspectives; and, (3) treat patients as equal and ongoing partners on the research team.
This commentary presents several established qualitative health research methods that are relevant to patient engagement in research. The hope is that this paper will inspire readers to seek more information about qualitative health research, and consider how its established methods may help improve the quality and ethical conduct of patient engagement for health research.
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Categories: all reflecting on public involvement in research journal article
Date Entered: 2019/01/14
Date Edited: 2019/01/14