Inclusiveness, Support, Mutual Respect and Co-Build are the four pillars of patient engagement according to the Strategy for Patient-Oriented Research (SPOR). The aim of this manuscript is to describe the operationalization of these principles through the creation of a Patient Advisory Council (PAC) for the research study titled ‘Re-Purposing the Ordering of Routine laboratory Tests (RePORT)’.
Researchers collaborated with the Alberta SPOR SUPPORT Unit (AbSPORU) Patient Engagement Team to create a diverse PAC. Recruitment was intentional and included multiple perspectives and experiences. PAC meetings were held monthly, and patient research partners received support to function as co-chairs of the PAC. Patient research partners were offered training, support and tailored modalities of compensation to actively engage with the PAC. Regular member check-ins occurred through reflexivity and a formal evaluation of PAC member engagement.
The PAC included between 9 and 11 patient research partners, principal investigator, research study coordinator, improvement scientist, resident physician and support members from the AbSPORU team. Twelve monthly PAC meetings were held during the first phase of the project. The PAC made course-changing contributions to study design including study objectives, recruitment poster, interview guide and development of codes for thematic analysis. Patient research partners largely felt that their opinions were valued. Diversity in the PAC membership enhanced access to diverse patient participants. Furthermore, support for co-chairs and patient research partner members enabled active engagement in research. In addition, a culture of mutual respect facilitated patient partner engagement, and co-design approaches yielded rich research outputs.
Collaboration between research teams and Patient Engagement Teams can promote effective patient engagement through a PAC. Deliberate and flexible strategies are needed to manage the PAC to create an ecology of Inclusiveness, Support, Mutual Respect, and Co-Build for meaningful patient engagement.
Patient or Public Contribution
Patient research partners were involved in the decision to write this manuscript and collaborated equitably in the conception and development of this manuscript, including providing critical feedback. Patient research partners were active members of the PAC and informed the research project design, participant recruitment strategies, data collection and analysis, and will be involved in the implementation and dissemination of results. They are currently involved in the co-development of a patient engagement strategy using a Human-Centered Design process.