Patients and community members are engaged in nearly every aspect of health systems. However, the engagement literature remains siloed and fragmented, which makes it difficult to connect engagement efforts with broader goals of health, equity and sustainability. Integrated and inclusive models of engagement are needed to support further transformative efforts.
This article describes the Ecology of Engagement, an integrated model of engagement. The model posits that: (1) Health ecosystems include all members of society engaged in health; (2) Engagement is the ‘together’ piece of health and healthcare (e.g., caring for each other, preventing, researching, teaching and building policies together); (3) Health ecosystems and engagement are interdependent from each other, both influencing health, equity, resilience and sustainability.
The Ecology of Engagement offers a common sketch to foster dialogue on engagement across health ecosystems. The model can drive cooperative efforts with patients and communities on health, equity, resilience and sustainability.
Patients and Public Contribution
Three of the authors have lived experiences as patients. One has a socially disclosed identity as a patient partner leader with extensive experience in engagement (individual care, education, research, management and policy). Two authors have significant experience as patients and informal caregivers, which were mobilized in descriptive illustrations. A fourth author has experience as an engaged citizen in health policy debates. All authors have professional lived experience in health (manager, researcher, health professional, consultant and educator). Six patient and caregiver partners with lived experience of engagement (other than the authors) contributed important revisions and intellectual content.