Zatzick notes that it is valuable to develop collaborative partnerships early on and to use a team approach to think through potential next steps if a study demonstrates that a particular intervention is effective. “Creating change, especially in the policy arena, is a long-term, team effort,” says Zatzick, who has worked with front-line trauma center clinicians, patients, researchers, and policy makers for several years to integrate patient-centered care into US trauma care systems.
Prior to receiving PCORI research funding, Zatzick’s team began working with national organizations including the American College of Surgeons, which creates national trauma care guidelines, to bring discussion about patient-centeredness into the policy dialogue. The team developed the study with the ultimate goal of using research findings to stimulate change in current guidelines for trauma care.
Even with ongoing collaboration and a regulatory mechanism in place, Zatzick notes that entering the policy arena has been challenging. Another valuable insight from the team’s experience is that patient partners play an essential role in influencing policy change, by serving as spokespeople and helping to communicate research findings. “When patients become advocates for change, their voice can have a major impact,” he says.
- Engage a group of patients, providers, policy makers, and other stakeholders early in the research process to provide input on how to make research evidence relevant and actionable.
- Develop collaborative relationships with organizations that have the ability to influence care delivery policies or guidelines based on research evidence.
- Be patient and persistent in your efforts to stimulate policy change; there will be ups and downs along the way.