“We were in the throes of the study,” recalls principal investigator Judith Long, MD, of the University of Pennsylvania. The group was meeting with their patient advisors and clinicians separately. “There was something missing from these discussions—they didn’t get at specific logistical details of the intervention and improvements we might make,” Long says.
So the investigators decided to try a town hall meeting in which study participants could describe their experience, community health workers could explain their work, and the patient advisors and clinicians could ask questions and exchange ideas. The meetings ended up helping the research group work out logistical problems and shed light on what the stakeholders valued.
An added benefit was that the town hall meetings turned to discussing sustainability: How would the clinics continue the community health worker program once the study ended? “We laid the groundwork for the future through these meetings that really allowed us to hear from the patients and the providers,” Long says.
Engaging clinicians is a crucial element of patient-centered outcomes research. We encourage all researchers to think about how to involve both parts of the patient-clinician dyad while planning and executing clinical comparative effectiveness research.