Kirsten Lomborg

Patient involvement in the development of a psychosocial cancer rehabilitation intervention: evaluation of a shared working group with patients and researchers

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Plain English summary: The aim of this paper is to present our experiences from a shared working group (SWG) with patient representatives and researchers. The SWG collaborated on developing a psychosocial cancer rehabilitation intervention for women treated for breast cancer and men treated for prostate cancer and on the planning of an effect study of this intervention.The SWG included five patient representatives (three women treated for breast cancer and two men treated for prostate cancer), four researchers and a research assistant. The SWG met four times during the year where the intervention was developed. Data material for the present evaluation study comprises meeting documents, transcriptions of interviews with two patient representatives and three researchers from the SWG, and the primary investigator's field notes.The collaboration between patient representatives and researchers informed both the intervention and the research planning and was rewarding for the involved participants. The well-structured organization of the collaboration had a positive impact on the outcome. In addition, clear goals and clarification of expectations were important. Challenges were encountered in keeping continuity between meetings and carrying out homework as intended. It was crucial for the collaboration that patient representatives had specific knowledge, interest and motivation for the project.Involving patient representatives in the research process heightened the relevancy of the research and the quality of its contents. The SWG gave patient representatives and researchers a better mutual understanding. Overall, the conclusion is that the benefits obtained by involving patient representatives exceeds the additional costs this involves.

Abstract: Background The aim of the paper is to present experiences of researchers collaborating with patients in a shared working group comprising patient representatives and researchers. Experiences are deduced from the evaluation of the work in the working group, which collaborated on developing a psychosocial cancer rehabilitation intervention for women treated for breast cancer and men treated for prostate cancer and the planning of a randomized controlled trial that investigates the effect of this intervention. Methods Five patient representatives (three women treated for breast cancer and two men treated for prostate cancer), four researchers and a research assistant participated in the shared working group. The shared working group met four times during the year the intervention was developed. Data material for the present evaluation study was collected from meeting documents, transcriptions of interviews with two patient representatives and three researchers from the shared working group, and the primary investigator's field notes. The data analysis was guided by Sandelowski's qualitative description strategy. Results The collaboration between patient representatives and researchers informed the intervention and the research planning and was rewarding for the involved participants. The well-structured organization of the collaboration had a positive impact on the outcome. Also, clear goals and clarification of expectations were important. Challenges were encountered in ensuring continuity between meetings and carrying out homework as intended. It was considered crucial for the collaboration to recruit patient representatives with specific knowledge, interest and motivation for the project. The direct costs related to the shared working group, including meals, transportation and salary for the research assistant, were small. However, the indirect costs in terms of time spent on planning patient-involving elements of, organizing meetings and evaluation were substantial and demanded a significant amount of extra work for the primary investigator. Conclusion Involving patients in the research process heightened the relevancy of the research and the quality of the research contents. The shared working group influenced both patient representatives and researchers and gave them a better mutual understanding. Overall, the conclusion is that the benefits obtained by involving patients exceed the additional costs related to patient involvement.

Original languageEnglish
Article number24
JournalResearch Involvement and Engagement
Volume4
ISSN2056-7529
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2018

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